How to learn 5000 Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Dutch or German words in 10 minutes

In this post I'm going to tell you how you can use the English words that you already know to quickly learn up to 5000 words in Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Dutch or German.

It is all about recognizing patterns between the languages, and it can give you a huge boost when you are starting to learn a language! The best thing is that you don't really have to learn these words, you just have to remember to switch the ending of the word based on the language.

The idea for these patterns does not come from me, so I give full credit to people like Joel Rendall and Rui Coimbra from Practice Portuguese and Wouter Corduwener who have done the groundwork.

#How is it possible that I already know thousands of words?

The reason is that 80% of the words in English originate from the languages that I mention in this blog post (French, Latin and Germanic languages). That means that there are thousands of words that are still shared between the languages. Words that are similar between two languages are called Cognates.

People who are able to quickly learn Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Dutch or German most likely take advantage of these patterns, even if they would not be aware of doing it.

#English Cognate words explained

Practice Portuguese YouTube channel has made a video that explains what the different groups of cognates are between English and Portuguese. The method works with other languages too, even if the video only shows examples in Portuguese.

5000 Words You Already Know

Example: Cognate Groups between English and Portuguese:

  • -tion (1000 nouns)
  • -sion (nouns, # unknown)
  • -ly (1000 adverbs)
  • -al (700 adjectives)
  • -ic (500 adjectives + nouns)
  • -ity (400 nouns)
  • -ate (300 verbs + adjectives, nouns)
  • -able/ible (300 adjectives)
  • -ent (300 adjectives + nouns)
  • -ism (250 nouns)
  • -ist (250 nouns)

= Total number of cognate words: ~5000

A well known Polyglot Wouter Corduwener has also made two great videos where he explains words that end with -tion, -ty, -ate and -ize.

Learn 1000 words in 5 languages in 5 minutes - Part 1:

Learn 1000 words in 5 languages in 5 minutes - Episode #1

Learn 1000 words in 5 languages in 5 minutes - Part 2:

Learn 1000 words in 5 languages in 5 minutes - episode #2

#Let's break down all 5000 cognates by category!

Most of the cognates work in all 6 languages, but there some categories that don't apply to Dutch and German.

Keep in mind that the number of cognates in each category is just an estimation. The real number of cognates might be different depending on the language.

There are also plenty of exceptions to the rules, so sometimes you will notice that the word that you think is correct does not actually exist or is replaced with another word in the language.

My idea here is just to give you some examples by comparing the words and word endings in different categories.

#1000 English nouns that end in -tion

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch and German
Language
English (-tion) Information Education Section Situation Production
Spanish (-ción) Información Educación Sección Situación Producción
Portuguese (-ção) Informação Educação Seção Situação Produção
Italian (-zione) Informazione Educazione Sezione Situazione Produzione
French (-tion) Information Education Section Situation Production
Dutch (-tie) Informatie Educatie Sectie Situatie Productie
German (-tion) Information Ausbildung Sektion Situation Produktion

#250 English nouns that end in -sion

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French and German (partly)
Language
English (-sion) Decision Division Television Version Conclusion
Spanish (-sión) Decisión División Televisión Versión Conclusión
Portuguese (-são) Decisão Divisão Televisão Versão Conclusão
Italian (-sione) Decisione Divisione Televisione Versione Conclusione
French (-sion) Décision Division Télévision Version Conclusion

#1500 English nouns that end in -ty

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch and German
  • Tip: these nouns are usually feminine.
Language
English (-ty) Authority University Activity Quality Capacity
Spanish (-dad) Autoridad Universidad Actividad Calidad Capacidad
Portuguese (-dade) Autoridade Universidade Atividade Qualidade Capacidade
Italian (-tà) Autorità Università Attività Qualità Capacità
French (-té) Autorité Université Activité Qualité Capacité
Dutch (-teit) Autoriteit Universiteit Activiteit Kwaliteit Capaciteit
German (-tät) Autorität Universität Aktivität Qualität Kapazität

#1000 English adverbs that end in -ly

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French
Language
English (-ly) Generally Necessarily Practically Automatically Correctly
Spanish (-(a)mente) Generalmente Necesariamente Prácticamente Automáticamente Correctamente
Portuguese (-(a)mente) Geralmente Necessariamente Praticamente Automaticamente Corretamente
Italian (-(a)mente) Generalmente Necessariamente Praticamente Automaticamente Correttamente
French (-(e)ment) Généralement Nécessairement Pratiquement Automatiquement Correctement

#700 English adjectives that end in -al

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch and German (partly)
Language
English (-al) Real Sensual Virtual Total Original
Spanish (-al) Real Sensual Virtual Total Original
Portuguese (-al) Real Sensual Virtual Total Original
Italian (-ale) Reale Sensuale Virtuale Totale Originale
French (-al, -el) Réel Sensuel Virtuel Total Original
Dutch (-al, -el) Real Sensueel Virtual Total Original

#500 English adjectives + nouns that end in -ic

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French and German
Language
English (-ic) Dramatic Specific Plastic Electronic Classic
Spanish (-ico) Dramático Específico Plástico Electrónico Clásico
Portuguese (-ico) Dramático Específico Plástico Eletrônico Clássico
Italian (-ico) Drammatico Specifico Plastico Elettronico Classico
French (-ique) Dramatique Spécifique Plastique Électronique Classique
German (-isch) Dramatisch Spezifisch Plastisch Elektronisch Klassisch

#300 English verbs + adjectives, nouns that end in -ate

Verbs:

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch and German
Language
English (-ate) Activate Communicate Illustrate Meditate Calculate
Spanish (-ar) Activar Comunicar Ilustrar Meditar Calcular
Portuguese (-ar) Ativar Comunicar Ilustrar Meditar Calcular
Italian (-are) Attivare Comunicare Illustrare Meditare Calcolare
French (-er) Activer Communiquer Illustrer Méditer Calculer
Dutch (-eren) Activeren Communiceren Illustreren Mediteren Calculeren
German (-ieren) Aktivieren Kommunizieren Illustrieren Meditieren Kalkulieren

#300 English verbs that end in -ize

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch and German
Language
English (-ize) Memorize Modernize Generalize Privatize Organize
Spanish (-izar) Memorizar Modernizar Generalizar Privatizar Organizar
Portuguese (-izar) Memorizar Modernizar Generalizar Privatizar Organizar
Italian (-izzare) Memorizzare Modernizzare Generalizzare Privatizzare Organizzare
French (-iser) Mémoriser Moderniser Généraliser Privatiser Organiser
Dutch (-iseren) Memoriseren Moderniseren Generaliseren Privatiseren Organiseren
German (-isieren) Memorieren Modernisieren Generalisieren Privatisieren Organisieren

#300 English adjectives that end in -able/ible

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French
  • Tip: The ending is exactly the same in English, Spanish and French
Language
English (-able, -ible) Tolerable Applicable Invisible Memorable Accessible
Spanish (-able, -ible) Tolerable Aplicable Invisible Memorable Accesible
Portuguese (-ável, -ível) Tolerável Aplicável Invisível Memorável Acessível
Italian (-abile, -ibile) Tollerabile Applicabile Invisibile Memorabile Accessibile
French (-able, -ible) Tolérable Applicable Invisible Mémorable Accessible

#300 English adjectives + nouns that end in -ent

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French
  • Tip: The ending is the same in English and French. The ending is also the same between Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.
Language
English (-ent) Excellent Frequent Permanent Patient Client
Spanish (-ente) Excelente Frecuente Permanente Paciente Cliente
Portuguese (-ente) Excelente Freqüente Permanente Paciente Cliente
Italian (-ente) Eccellente Frequente Permanente Paziente Cliente
French (-ent) Excellent Fréquent Permanent Patient Client

#250 English nouns that end in -ism

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch and German
  • Tip: The words are realated to idealisms. The words are always masculine.
Language
English (-ism) Organism Feminism Optimism Socialism Nationalism
Spanish (-ismo) Organismo Feminismo Optimismo Socialismo Nacionalismo
Portuguese (-ismo) Organismo Feminismo Otimismo Socialismo Nacionalismo
Italian (-ismo) Organismo Femminismo Ottimismo Socialismo Nazionalismo
French (-isme) Organisme Féminisme Optimisme Socialisme Nationalisme
Dutch (-isme) Organisme Feminisme Optimisme Socialisme Nationalisme
German (-ismus) Organismus Feminismus Optimismus Sozialismus Nationalismus

#250 English nouns that end in -ist

  • Works with: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Dutch and German
  • Tip: these words are usually professions
Language
English (-ist) Pianist Specialist Artist Tourist Guitarist
Spanish (-ista) Pianista Especialista Artista Turista Guitarrista
Portuguese (-ista) Pianista Especialista Artista Turista Guitarrista
Italian (-ista) Pianista Specialista Artista Turista Chitarrista
French (-iste) Pianiste Spécialiste Artiste Touriste Guitariste
Dutch (-ist) Pianist Specialist Artist Toerist Gitarist
German (-ist) Pianist Spezialist Artist Tourist Gitarrist

Do you want to get more tips about learning vocabulary?

Check out the blog post Expand Your Vocabulary in a Foreign Language with These Tips by polyglotsdiary.com


Published by

Krister Kari

Speaks (B1-C2): English, Finnish, Swedish, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese.
Currently learning: Russian and Dutch.

Hello my name is Krister and I'm here to help you to learn languages.

I'm a language learning enthusiast and a Programmer from Finland. I speak 7 languages with levels from B1 to C2. I have learned all of those languages on my own using my own methods.

In this blog I'm sharing tricks and tips to allow people to learn languages in a fun and efficient way.


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