Cognates are a great shortcut to learning Spanish, as Spanish and English have thousands of these words that are basically the same in both languages.
Most words that end in English in tion can be changed to Spanish by ción. An example is the solution to la solución. (And we laughingly add that an easy way to remember these are all feminine words is to remember that solutions are feminine, and problems are masculine. El problema is one of those words ending in ma, pa, ta, which entered Spanish through Greek.)
But beware of these common false friends. They look and sound like an English words, but have a completely different meaning.
Actual – means current, at the present time, as in actualmente.
Use real or verdadero for real or actual.
Asistir – means to attend. Asisto a la escuela.
Use ayudar for to help or to assist.
Carpeta – means a file folder. Use alfombra for carpet or rug.
Constipado – refers to cold congestion, doesn’t mean the obvious.
Use estreñido for constipated.
Decepcion, decepcionar – means disappointed. Estoy muy decepcionada.
Use engañoso for deceptive. Delito – means a minor crime.
Use un encanto for something very nice. Desgracia – means a misfortune.
For a real disgrace use una vergüenza.
Embarazada – means pregnant, not embarrassing. (This is a common mistake, and I once overheard a priest state Estoy embarazado. Very amusing!)
Use tener vergüenza or sentirse avergonzado.
Emocionado (a) – means thrilling or exciting, not just emotional as in a mood. Estoy muy emocionada.
Exito – means a success, as in tener éxito. Use la salida for the exit.
Largo – means long. Use grande for large.
Molestar – means to bother without any sexual meaning. Me molesta mucho el humo (smoke).
Pretender – means to try. For pretense use fingir.
Recordar – means to remind or remember. Use grabar to make a recording.
Sano – means healthy. Use en su juicio for sane.
Suceso – means the event. Use éxito for success.
Tuna – means either a cactus fruit or a university choral group. Use atun for the fish.
And don’t forget those basic words of ropa – meaning clothes, not rope, and sopa – meaning soup (jabón is soap).