Don’t Be Fooled by False Friends: 5 Words To Use With Caution

False friends can cause confusion because they look and sound like words you know. But they actually have a different meaning.

Imagine you’re sitting in a meeting with international colleagues. You want to impress them and proudly announce, “I’m actually a chef“. Even though you’ve taken a cooking class, you’re not a professional chef. This could confuse them.

And the word ‘actuallymeanstatsächlich‘, not ‘aktuell‘. Remember?

So, there we have it—pure confusion!

What about the harmless-looking ‘eventually‘?

It doesn’t mean ‘eventuell‘, but ‘schließlich‘ or ‘irgendwann einmal’. If you want to express the idea “Ich werde eventuell kommen“, say “I might come.” Don’t use “I will eventually come.”

You’re telling someone they are wise or smart when you say, “You are sensible.”  It’s a compliment for their ability to think and understand things well. You’re not suggesting that they are easily upset or sensitive.

And finally, we have the word ‘become‘. No, it does not mean ‘bekommen‘ at all, but ‘werden‘! So, if you say, “I become a coffee“, you will certainly get strange looks.

But don’t worry. With a little practice and awareness, you can elegantly avoid these little pitfalls.

Are there other false friends that you have stumbled across?

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Foto Christine Sparks

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