Languages › Spanish Increasing Your Spanish Vocabulary An Overview Share Flipboard Email Print El español tiene muchas palabras para aprender. (Spanish has many words to learn.). Juna Pablo Lauriente/Creative Commons. Spanish Vocabulary History & Culture Pronunciation Writing Skills Grammar By Gerald Erichsen Spanish Language Expert B.A., Seattle Pacific University Gerald Erichsen is a Spanish language expert who has created Spanish lessons for ThoughtCo since 1998. our editorial process Gerald Erichsen Updated May 03, 2019 A big part of learning any foreign language is learning the vocabulary — the collection of words used by those who speak the language. Fortunately for English speakers learning Spanish, there is a large overlap in the vocabulary. That's because Spanish is a direct descendant of Latin while English received an infusion of Latin-derived vocabulary in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Word Similarities The overlap gives English speakers a head start in learning Spanish vocabulary. A linguist would say the two language have an abundance of cognates, words that are similar and have a common origin. But that head start comes with a price: Meanings of words change over time, and English and Spanish haven't always changed in the same way. So some words, known as false friends, look like they might mean the same thing in the corresponding word of the other language. For example, something that is actual in Spanish is something that's current or happening now rather than something that isn't imaginary. And some words, ones I (but hardly anybody else) call fickle friends, correspond frequently but not so often enough that their meanings need to be learned. Arena in Spanish can refer to a sports arena, for example, but it more often refers to sand. Expanding on What You Know How many words do you need to be proficient in Spanish? That's an open question because the answer depends on what you want to do with the language. That task of learning thousands of words may sound daunting. But there are ways you can make the task easier. One way is to take advantage of the many prefixes and suffixes, word beginnings and endings you can use. Many of the prefixes will seem familiar, because most come from Latin. That's not as common with the suffixes. Two of the main kinds are augmentative suffixes, which can add a negative connotation to a word or refer to something that's particularly large, and diminutive suffixes, which can refer to things that are small or that are especially desirable. Memorization Memorization is seldom the most fun way to learn words, but many students benefit from it. Here are some of the word lists we provide as an aid: Top 100 Spanish words you need to knowSpanish for air travelersArabic words in SpanishSpanish arithmetic termsSpanish at the beachWords for everyday things around the homeComputer and Internet termsBody parts in SpanishCompound words in SpanishConfusing Spanish verb pairs: ser and estar, saber and conocer, othersEnglish words borrowed from SpanishGeography in Spanish: City names, definite articles with country names, nationalitiesSpanish lodging vocabularySpanish love wordsCommon and not-so-common vegetablesAlternatives for muySpanish names for occupationsSpanish names of petsSpanish astronomical termsSpanish names for relativesSpanish for ThanksgivingShopping in Spanish and Spanish names for storesSpanish units of timeSeasons in SpanishSpanish weather termsSpanish war and military termsSpanish words for "what"Spanish words for snowWinter sports in SpanishU.S.-style football termsBasketball glossarySpanish at the zooWords for celebrating Halloween We also have lessons on use of particular words. Many of these lessons include comments on the word's etymology, or word history. AlfabetoClaroDerecho and derechaGraciaGringoHuracánMejor and peorNoSanto For Fun It may not always be practical, but sometimes it's fun to learn words just for the sake of learning them: Crossword puzzles in SpanishWhat is the longest word in Spanish? Ways to Make These Words Yours Over the years, numerous readers of this site have offered their advice for incorporating the words into the Spanish that you can use everyday. The simple fact, though, is that what works well for one person doesn't work for everyone, as we all have our own learning styles. You might consider some of these methods, however, to see of one of them clicks for you: Make sticky notes with names of objects and place them on the things you want to be able to talk about. You can't do this everywhere, of course, but if you do this your home you can track your progress by removing the notes for words you have already learned.Create three-by-five-inch cards with vocabulary words on one side and definitions on the other. And random times during the day, compose sentences using the words.Use social media to find Spanish speakers learning English and you can help each other.