Spanish Lessons


Spanish Cognates for English Words That End in -ation

In the course of your Spanish studies, you may have noticed certain patterns that make "predicting" words you may never have even heard before possible in many cases. The focus of today's lesson is one such group of words.


The -ation/-ación Connection

Due to their shared roots in the Latin language, many English words that end with the suffix -ation are cognates (words in different languages that share similar meanings, spellings, and pronunciations) along with their Spanish equivalents that end in a very similar suffix: -ación. Let's look at several, very common examples that you may have heard:


Justo el día de hoy le ha dado un mensaje a la nación 

Just today he's given a message to the nation

Caption 23, Yabla en Lima El Centro - Part 2

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y tenía mucha imaginación.

and he had a lot of imagination.

Caption 9, El Aula Azul Adivina personajes históricos - Part 2

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Ehm... ¿Tiene alguna recomendación como de pollo o de pescado?

Um... Do you have any recommendation, like, for chicken or fish?

Captions 32-33, Cata y Cleer En el restaurante

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y, por suerte, casi siempre hay mucha participación.

and, luckily, there is almost always a lot of participation.

Caption 78, Viajando con Fermín Asociación ProDunas Marbella

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What can we notice about these words? First off, most of them share virtually identical spellings in English and Spanish but for the replacement of the English suffix -ation with the Spanish -ación. The only minor exception in these examples is the inclusion of a double consonant (m) in the English word "recommendation" that does not appear in la recomendación (this is due to an English spelling rule that we won't delve into in this lesson). 


Another noteworthy feature of this class of -ation/-ación cognates (and, in fact, all words that end in -ación in Spanish) is that these nouns' gender in Spanish is feminine. 



Applying the Formula to More Complex Words

That said, what if we were at a party, and we wanted to talk about more complex concepts such as "industrialization," "globalization," or "commercialization," and we weren't familiar with the correct Spanish terms? We might try to substitute the Spanish suffix -ación for -ation, just to see what we came up with:  


tenemos la... lógicamente, la industrialización,

we have the... logically, industrialization,

Caption 51, Los médicos explican Entrevista con el Doctor Suarez

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Y no te quiero hablar de la globalización

And I don't want to talk about globalization

Caption 47, Yago 6 Mentiras - Part 6

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Es una ruta a nivel turístico bastante joven que está en pleno proceso de comercialización.

It's a rather young route at the touristic level that is in the middle of the process of commercialization.

Captions 30-31, Europa Abierta Taller de escenografía en Olivares

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It worked! You will note that, once again, the spellings and meanings of these terms in Spanish and English are virtually identical except for the slight difference in their suffixes and the addition of the double "m" in "commercialization," again due to English spelling norms. That said, we suggest applying this formula to English words ending in -ation to make an educated guess about their Spanish translations since chances are you'll be right!


Exceptions to the -ation/-ación Rule 

Of course, as with all things in life, no formula is perfect, and there are always exceptions. Let's take a look at couple of them:


En los meses de verano, su población llega a multiplicarse por cuatro.

In the summer months, its population gets multiplied by four.

Caption 14, Fuengirola Mercado

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Although our formula would take us to the not-quite-correct word populación, we'd venture to guess that a native Spanish speaker would understand perfectly well what you meant by "En los meses de verano, su populación [sic] llega a multiplicarse por cuatro" and just might gently edify you as to the correct term. Let's look at another example:


porque justo salir del aeropuerto ya te encuentras con la estación de autobús.

because just leaving from the airport you come across the bus station right away.

Caption 28, Blanca Cómo moverse en Barcelona

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In this case, the word estación is extremely similar to the English word "station" except for the suffix and the "e" at the beginning, which is due, this time, to a Spanish norm whereby almost all words with an  "s" and a consonant at the beginning are preceded by an "e." And again, we're pretty sure that were you to inquire about the whereabouts of la stación de tren, someone would still direct you to the train station! 


Although there are some words that end in -ation in English whose translations are even less similar than the aforementioned examples (e.g. translation/traducción, explanation/explicación, etc.), we still suggest that our formula is a great place to start because, even if you aren't perfectly correct in your attempt to morph an -ation word in English into an -ación word in Spanish, chances are you'll be understood and/or corrected, which is how we learn. And, in many, many cases, as we've shown you... you'll be correct!


That's all for today. Have you noticed any other patterns that have helped you to make educated guesses about words in Spanish? Let us know with your suggestions and comments


How to Write and Use the Prefix Super in Spanish

Let's start this lesson with a little quiz. Do you know how to write "superhero" in Spanish? Choose one of the following:


a. Super héroe

b. Superhéroe

c. Súper héroe

d. Súperheroe


If you don't know the answer, this lesson will help you to find out which one is the proper spelling.


The meaning of the prefix super in Spanish


When it works as a prefix, the word super has different meanings. Sometimes, it means 'above' like in the word superestructura (superstructure). It can also mean 'excellence' or 'superiority':


¿Con el superagente, Jaime Suárez?

With the super-agent, Jaime Suarez?

Caption 53, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 3

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In some words, the prefix super expresses the 'highest degree' of something: 


Eh... La iglesia es superhermosa.

Um... The church is super beautiful.

Caption 14, Bogotá - Una visita a la ciudad

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And finally, the prefix super can also indicate the 'excess' of something:


Ehm... Tenemos la... la... la... la... la superpoblación.

Um... We have (the... the... the... the... the) overpopulation.

Caption 50, Los médicos explican - Entrevista con el Doctor Suarez

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The meaning of the word súper (with an accent)


Have you ever seen the word súper with an accent? If you think that súper is the same as super (with no accent), you are wrong. The word súper needs the accent only in the following situations:


1. When it is used as a noun for the short form of the word supermercado (supermarket) or the type of gasoline:


Roberto fue al súper a comprar naranjas.

Roberto went to the supermarket to buy oranges. 


2. When it works as an adjective or adverb to express that someone or something is/was great:


Súper, y ¿qué le dijeron de Gastón Almanza?

Super, and what did they tell you about Gaston Almanza?

Caption 20, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 1

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The simplest thing to remember here is that the prefix super doesn't have a graphic accent.


How to write words that use the prefix super in Spanish


Believe it or not, there are many native Spanish speakers who don't know how to properly write words that are formed with the prefix super. The main rule, however, is quite simple: When writing, the prefix super should be connected to the word that follows. With that simple rule, we can answer the question we posed at the beggining of this lesson:


Y tengo de superhéroe lo que Juanes de vallenato

And I've got from a superhero what Juanes [has] from vallenato

Caption 30, Juanes - La Plata

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However, every rule has its exception and this rule has the following one:


Super followed by a hyphen


When the word that follows super starts with a capital letter or when this prefix is followed by a number, you need to add a hyphen:


super-Obama or super-10


Super separated by the word that follows it


You need to leave a space after super when it goes before a series of words that have their own meaning:


Yo siempre me he sentido super a gusto cantando al lado de ese grandísimo músico...

I have always felt pretty at home singing along this great musician...

Caption 50, David Bisbal - Haciendo Premonición Live

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That's it for today. We invite you to write 10 words with the prefix super. And don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

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