Muy Tricky :: Parte Uno




Over here at Red Angle, there’s always a lot of chatter about Spanish Twins – words that are nearly the same or identical in both English and Spanish.


For example:

Material :: (mah-tay-ree-AHL)

Metal :: (may-TAHL)

Plan :: (plahn)

Concreto :: (kohn-KRAY-toh)

Cemento :: (say-MAYN-toh)

Producto :: (proh-DOOK-toh)

Experto :: (ayk-SPAYR-toh)


We bring them up rather constantly because Spanish Twins are the single fastest way to build a Spanish vocabulary applicable to the jobsite – vocabulary that bridges the language gap and makes your life easier.


And… we bring it up because we wrote a book titled, ahem, Spanish Twins: Start Speaking Spanish on the Construction Site with Words You Already Know. It contains over 1000 Spanish Twin words and phrases carefully selected for construction folks like you.


available at in paperback & eBook.



But… there are a handful of words in Construction Spanish that appear to be Spanish Twins, but they are more like Spanish Inbreds. They are related, they look similar, but something has gone terribly wrong. They are not so bueno. These Spanish Inbreds don’t mean what you think they mean.


You may see these referred to as False Friends aka Amigos Falsos, but that’s confusing because falso (FAHL-soh) is a SpanishTwin for false.



So here are some Spanish Inbreds to keep an eye out for:




It doesn’t mean to assist, for that you’d opt for Ayudar (i-yooh-DAHR) to help. No, Asistir means to attend. Here is the difference in action:


¿Puede asistir al Toolbox Talk?

Can you attend the Toolbox Talk?


¿Puede ayudarme?

Can you help me?





Thousands of Spanish Twins simply have a vowel change at the end of the word, but not this one – it does not mean Body. That would be Cuerpo (KWAYR-poh). For Cuerpo, think of the Latin root – Corpus – as in the city of Corpus Christi in Texas, “Body of Christ.”

Boda means Wedding in Spanish, which is easy to remember for you readers who always bring botas to bodas.


Botas at the Boda.




Carpeta is a double inverted Spanish Twin. It’s a Spanish Twin on double secret probation. It is, but it isn’t. It’s not, but it is. It is what it is. Let me explain….


Dean Wormer tiene carpeta en su oficina.


The academic Spanish linguistic elite (I am not a card-carrying member by any stretch…) have determined this is a Spanish Inbred. It obviously looks like carpet, but it means file folder. Not worthless on the job, but most Spanish-speakers aren’t carrying around lots of paperwork in file folders. They carry tools.


But because of Carpeta’s obvious appearance, it has become the de facto standard way to say Carpet on the jobsite. It’s Spanglish. Embrace it.


Alfombra (ahl-FOHM-brah) is the technically correct way to say Carpet, but you won’t hear too many installers calling it that.


¿Puede instalar la carpeta hoy?

Can you install the carpet today?




Looks like compromise, right? It aint. It’s a Promise or a Commitment. There hasn’t been any trade-offs or negotiations to get to this Compromiso.


¿Puede hacerlo ahora? ¿Compromiso?

Can you do it now? Promise?




Not even close to delightDelito (day-LEE-toh) is a Crime. Crimen (KREE-mayn) is also a Spanish Twin for Crime, but the difference is Delito is a minor offense whereas Crimen is more serio.


Delito would be a misdemeanor.

Crimen would be a felony.



Shhh, porfa. Hablando es un delito….

Shhh, please. Talking is a misdemeanor….




Embarazada (aym-bah-rah-SAH-dah) is the Spanish Inbred version of the Rose Bowl – the grandaddy of them all!


Embarrassed? You will be when you use this incorrectly as I have in the past – it means Pregnant. Years ago I was expressing disappointment and frustración at the state of our jobsite – it was a desastre. So I said:


Estoy embarazda con este desastre.

I am pregnant with this disaster.




Laughter erupted from the Spanish-speakers at the all-jobsite meeting.

Yoink. Lesson learned.


I should have said this:

Tengo verguenza con este desastre. 

I’m embarrassed with this disaster.





Practice these on the jobsite today and we’ll continue with Parte Dos of this post mañana!






Bradley Hartmann is founder and el presidente at Red Angle (, a Spanish language training firm focused on the construction industry.


Categories: Jobsite Leadership

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. Muchas gracias, no estoy embarazada.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: