The Spanish hallar (“to find”) comes from the Latin afflare (“to blow.”) From that same Latin root we get various f‑l words involving blowing, including:
All of these share the f‑l root. But how did this turn into the Spanish hallar? Well, first remember that the initial F- sound tended to disappear when Latin turned into Spanish; see, fig and higo or fable and hablar. Secondly, note that finding something is just blowing on it, uncovering what was below the dust you blew away!
The Initial F, followed by a vowel, disappears: So, “hoja”, meaning “leaf” (in all senses: the autumn trees, the piece of paper) is thus, from the same Latin root as “foliage”, the green plant leaves!
“Fig” comes from the Latin “Ficus” — obvious enough!
But, curiously, the Spanish word is “Higado”. Huh?
This is just a simple example of the Initial F to H pattern. In lots of Latin words, the first F became an H when Latin evolved into Spanish. Think fact/hecho or hablar/fable.
An easy way to figure out what an H- word in Spanish is: change the initial H to an F and see what English word sounds similar.
The Spanish hambre, for “hunger”, makes sense if you know two different patterns.
Firstly, the initial f‑to‑h pattern: words that began with an f- then a vowel in Latin tended to have the f- turned into an h- when Spanish evolved into Latin. Huir and Fugitive is another example of that pattern.
Secondly, the mn-to-mbr pattern: when the letters in Latin “m” and “n” appear together, often separated by a vowel, they usually became “mbr” as a unit in Spanish.
Thus the f‑m-n of famine maps directly to the h‑m-b‑r of hambre.
The English fact comes from the Latin factum, meaning “something that happened.” It is thus an exact cognate to the Spanish hacer, meaning “to make.” How?
The root of both is the Latin facere, meaning “to do.” Fact, and the Latin factum, is just the same word in a different tense.
The Latin facere turned into the Spanish hacer, although they superficially sound different. Their relation becomes obvious once we remember that Latin words that began with an initial f- almost always turned into an initial h- when Latin evolved into Spanish.
Therefore the f‑c-r of facere maps exactly to the h‑c-r of hacer.
This pattern explains many words such as hierro/ferrari, hervir/fever, huir/fugitive, hoja/foliage!