Setting the record straight with “aplicar” and “calificar”, and with another “falso amigo”.


Can we translate “apply to a new job” using the word “aplicar”? No, because it is a mistranslation. Same thing happens when we use the word “calificar” to communicate “to qualify” in Spanish.

In the United States, these are pervasive errors now. If you write “Aplica al empleo antes de la fecha límite”, you’ll get your message across. And if you write “Usted puede calificar al crédito”, your message will be understood.

However, now that you learned about these errors, I ask you: Would you like to avoid them? Would you like to write right in Spanish?

Here are some options to set the record straight with “aplicar”, “calificar” and “popular”.

To apply

English: Apply to job before deadline.
Solution: Solicita el empleo antes de la fecha límite.
Common mistake: Aplica al empleo antes de la fecha límite.

The different meanings behind these words:
Apply: Make a formal application or request.
Aplicar: Poner algo sobre otra cosa, poner en práctica un conocimiento, adjudicar.
Solicitar: Pedir algo de manera respetuosa, o rellenando una solicitud o instancia.

To qualify

English: You need to qualify first.
Solutions: Primero necesitas cumplir con los requisitos. / Necesitas ser elegible primero.
Common mistake: Necesitas calificar primero.

Different meanings behind these words:
Qualify: Be entitled to a particular benefit or privilege by fulfilling a necessary condition.
Calificar: Apreciar o atribuir cualidades, juzgar conocimientos.
Elegible: Que tiene la capacidad legal para ser elegido.
Cumplir: realizar, satisfacer.
Requisitos: Circunstancia o condiciones necesarias para algo.

Popular

English: This is a very popular product.
Solution: Este es un producto de mucha aceptación.
Common mistake: Este es un producto muy popular.

Different meanings behind these words:
Popular: Liked, admired, or enjoyed by many people.
Popular: Al alcance de la gente con menos recursos económicos o con menos desarrollo cultural. Que es estimado o, al menos, conocido por el público en general.
Aceptación: Con aprobación, que se da por bueno.

These “falsos amigos” between English and Spanish can make us look unprofessional. Why not try to use the right words? Remember, as Spanish native speakers living in the United States, we understand that there can be more mistakes in Spanish writing. But we really enjoy and appreciate good Spanish writing.

If you have any questions about these “falsos amigos” or any other ones you might encounter on your Spanish writing path, don’t hesitate to ask me about them below.

Main sources:
https://www.dictionary.com
http://www.rae.es

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