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Spanish Language Style Guide and Glossaries: Frequently Mistranslated English Terms

Below are some frequently mistranslated English terms (in bold), and their Spanish translations (in italics).

Abbreviations Key

v: verb
n: noun
adj.: adjective
exp.: expression

Access [v]:
Broadvision (Portal) Acceder a- NEVER accesar

Act n:
Ley o Proyecto de Ley; NEVER acta

American [adj.]:
Estadounidense, less desirable, norteamericano; NEVER americano

Authoritative [adj.]:
Confiable – According to the Real Academia Española Autoritativo is hardly used.

Application [n]:

Apply [v] for a job, or a license, etc.:
Solicitar o postular NEVER aplicar

Apply [v] to a noun (Example: This benefit applies to full-time employees.):
In this case the verb aplicar should be used in the reflexive formEste beneficio se aplica a los empleados a tiempo completo NEVER Este beneficio aplica a los empleados a tiempo completoOther ways of translating this sentence are: Este beneficio es para empleados a tiempo completo; o Los empleados a tiempo completo tienen este beneficio.

Circle v:
Action verb in Spanish +… círculo, such as, “encerrar en un círculo la respuesta correcta” NEVER “circular” when used in this context.

Comprehensive [n]:
Completo, extensivo, amplio NEVER comprensivo

Directions n:
Instrucciones, indicaciones NEVER direcciones

Discrimination [n]:
Discriminación, NEVER discrimen

Fact Sheet [n]:
Hoja de datos, planilla de datos

Federal government [n]:
Gobierno federal, estatal y/o local (Gobierno in Spanish should be capitalized, but not federal, estatal o local). See the Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas online. Write the term gobierno in the search box for capitalization rules of this word.

File v:
Declarar, presentarFile has many meanings, depending on use, the example only pertains to the use described.

Form n:
Preferred word is Formulario (Llene este formulario)

Guidelines [n]:
Directrices, also directivas, pautas, normas

Launch v:
Lanzar, Inaugurar, iniciar, estrenar, activar, presentar, introducir al mercado, poner en marcha, etc. – lanzar is by no means the only translation for this term

Learn more about … [exp.] just learned that … [exp.]:
Informar(se), enterar(se), tomar conocimiento de —conjugate accordingly.

Qualify v:
Estar capacitado, calificado para…. Reunir los requisitos para un programa, o asistencia… NEVER CALIFICAR (Ella califica para el préstamo—incorrect use)

Raise awareness [exp.]:
Concientizar al público (widely used)

Require [v]:
Pedir, exigir; necesitar

Requirement [n]:
Requisito; requerimiento, necesidad

Select [v]:
Seleccionar, NEVER selectar

Selected list [n]:
Lista selectiva; Listado selectivo

Selection guidelines [n]:
Criterio o criterios de selección

Submit v:
Enviar o presentar un trabajo o un documento (NEVER someter)

Suggestion [v]:
Sugerencia, recomendación (NEVER sugestión)

Surgeon General [n]:
Director de Salud Pública (NEVER “Cirujano General”)