Can You Tell Spanish Words from Italian?

Isadora Teich

Image: Brzozowska/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Spanish, Italian and French are all Romance languages, which might explain why it's easier to recognize words from one of these languages if you know a different one. Who knew that your high school Spanish class could actually help you order food in Italy? Bueno! Buon! Heck, you can even thank people more easily. I mean, if you say it quickly, will your taxi driver really be able to tell if you said, "gracias" or "grazie?" 

However, before you get too excited, not all Romance language words have cognates. A cognate is essentially a word that sounds very similar to another word that means the same thing in a different language. For instance, computer is "computadora" in Spanish. "Dolce," which means "sweet" in Italian, is "dulce" in Spanish. "Sol," "sole" and "soleil" all mean "sun" in Spanish, Italian and French.

But, if you're talking about someone's son in Italian and Spanish, you'd need to know "figlio" and "hijo," respectively.

Find out how well you know the differences, great and small, between common Spanish and Italian words by taking this quiz!


If I say "hola," what language am I speaking?

"Hola" means "Hello" in Spanish. The Italian equivalent is "Ciao."

If you say "sono stanco" at night, you'd be speaking which language?

This means "I'm tired" in Italian. In Spanish, it's "estoy cansado."

"Buenos días" is a greeting in what language?

This means "good morning" in Spanish. In Italian, you say "buongiorno" to wish someone a pleasant morning.

"Grazie" is a polite thing to say in which language?

This means "thank you" in Italian. In Spanish, you say "gracias."

Before you leave for the day, you might say "adiós," which is what language?

This means "goodbye" in Spanish. In Italian you say "addio," which is very similar.

If you're hankering for some chocolate mousse, you'd ask for "Il dolce" in this language:

This is Italian for "the dessert." In Spanish it's "el postre." "Dolce" literally translates to "sweet."

The greeting, "¿Cómo está usted?," is spoken in what language?

This means "how are you?" in Spanish. In Italian, you say "come va?"

You might ask, "¿Qué hora es?," if you're trying to catch a train while speaking this language:

This is how you ask for the time in Spanish. In order to do so in Italian, you ask, "che ore sono?"

Teenagers speaking ______ might whine to their parents while asking,"¿Por qué?"

This is how you ask "why" in Spanish. In order to do so in Italian, you say "Perché?" To make it even more confusing, the word "porque" (as one word) means "because." ¿Por que? Porque.

"L'autunno" is the perfect time for drinking a pumpkin spice latte when you're speaking this language:

In Italian, this means "autumn." In Spanish, it's "el otoño." In English, it's time for seasonal products of the pumpkin variety!

If you want to vacation by "il mare," you're talking about a lovely coastal trip in __________.

This is Italian for "the sea." In Spanish it's "el mar."

Uh-oh! If you've fallen and you can't get up, you might yell, "aiutami!" What language is it?

This is "help me!" in Italian. In order to call for help in Spanish, you'd yell: "¡ayuadame!"

"Buon Natale!" is a holiday greeting in which language?

You can wish someone a merry Christmas in Italian with this phrase. In Spanish, it's "¡Feliz Navidad!"

"In bocca al lupo" doesn't actually mean you're being eaten by wolves in this language:

This is Italian for "good luck." It literally means "in the wolf's mouth." To wish someone luck in Spanish ,you say "buena suerte," which is decidedly missing the wolf reference.

If you're eating a quesadilla, and you want more cheese, ask for "el queso" in this language.

This means "the cheese" in Spanish. It's also slang for a popular Tex-Mex dip. In Italian, cheese is "il formaggio."

The closest star is called "el Sol" in __________.

This is Spanish for "sun." In Italian, it's "sole." And just so you can see how connected the Romance languages are, it's "soleil" in French.

If you didn't take ______ in high school, you should probably learn the phrase, "no comprendo."

This means "I don't understand" in Spanish. In Italian, you say "non capisco."

What language is "la escuela?"

This is Spanish for "the school." In Italian, it's "la scuola."

"L'amore" is what language?

This is Italian for "love." In Spanish, it's "el amor."

"Come ti chiami?" is a question in which language?

This is how to ask for someone's name in Italian. In Spanish, it's "¿Cual es tu nombre?" Remember, in Spanish, if using the word "tu," it's the informal version of "you."

If you're describing the water as "azul," what language are you speaking?

This is how the color blue is expressed in Spanish. In Italian, it's "blu."

You drive "l'auto" while speaking ________.

This is how you say "the car" in Italian. In Spanish, it's "el coche."

"El cumpleaños" comes every year for everyone. What language is it?

This is "birthday" in Spanish. In Italian, it's "Il compleanno."

If I talk about, "un hombre," what language am I speaking?

This is Spanish for "a man." In Italian, it's "un uomo."

If your partner says, "te amo," they'd like you to reply "te amo, tambien." Which language is this?

This means "I love you" in Spanish. In Italian, it's "ti amo."

If you're talking about "la muerte," you're speaking _______.

This is Spanish for "death." In Italian, it's "la morte."

"Rojo" is a color in what language?

This is how the color red is said in Spanish. In Italian, it's "rosso."

"Prego" is part of polite conversation in what language?

This means "you're welcome" In Italian. In Spanish, you say "de nada."

If someone says "mi dispiace" to you after bumping into you, they're apologizing in what language?

This means "I'm sorry" in Italian. In order to apologize in Spanish, you say "lo siento."

"Un ángel" is a heavenly being in what language?

This is Spanish for "an angel." In Italian, it's "un angelo."

If you're calling your child "hijo," you're speaking this language:

This is Spanish for "son." In Italian, it's "figlio."

This language teacher might appreciate "una manzana."

This is Spanish for "an apple." In Italian, it's "una mela." And weirdly enough, in French, it's "pomme." This is one of those words where none of the Romance languages have a similar word for the same thing. Generally, the words are much more similar.

"Mi esposo" should NOT be confused with "esposas" in this language:

"Mi esposo" is Spanish for "my husband." You want to be careful, because "esposas" means "handcuffs" in Spanish. In Italian, you'd say "mio marito" to say "my husband."

"La strega" might curse you in this language:

This is Italian for "the witch." In Spanish it's "la bruja."

If I'm talking about "la donna," what language am I speaking?

This means "the woman" in Italian. In Spanish, it's said "la mujer."

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