When learning a new language, it is easy to find way to make learning faster and simpler. Cognates are words that sounds, look, and mean similar things in two separate languages, however there are also false cognates that can confuse and hinder a student.
One of the things that can make learning Spanish a lot easier is cognates. A cognate is a set of words that have a common origin (causing them to be be spelled/pronounced similarly) and similar meanings in two separate languages. Examples include liberal/liberal, rare/raro, or decide/decidir. However, beware of false cognates.
A false cognates looks similar, but the words do not have a similar meaning. A prime example is the Spanish word embarazada. Although it looks like the word embarrassed, and it is pronounced similarly, the word means pregnant.
A word of advice, know the difference in these two words before you try to explain to your future-mother-in-law that the reason that you don't talk much is because your Spanish makes you feel embarrassed. Most Hispanic cultures look down on announcing in a crowded room that you're pregnant in a premarital relationship that's only a few weeks old. Explaining the mistake with a very limited Spanish vocabulary tends to not work so well. No bueno.
So here are a few true cognates, and false ones.
abnormal - abnormal
admit - admitir
air - aire
appear - aparecer
athletic - atlético
attention - atención
bank - banco
bicycle - bicicleta
decide - decidir
manuscript - manuscrito
map - mapa
"Boda"-This word means "wedding", and is not the word for "body" which is "cuerpa."
"Bizarro"-Although this word looks like"bizarre" it actually means "brave."
"Ganga"-This is a word that means "bagain", even though it appears to be similar to the English word "gang". (Which would be "pandilla" in Spanish)
"Once"- This looks exactly like the word "once" in English, however it is actually "eleven." Once is "una vez."
"Rapista"- If someone tells you that they are a "rapista," don't fret. They're just a barber, and will no be stealing away your innocence. Unless you happen to be Sampson.
"Recordar"- This is the Spanish verb for "To remember", not to record which is "para grabar."