Getting to Know Your False Friends

A false friend is a word or expression that sounds or looks like one in your native language, but has a different meaning.

We all know, for example, that the German word Handy is a mobile or cell phone in English. But what about Schauen Sie auf die Rückseite des PCs?

We don’t use backside here as many people might think. The backside is the Hinterteil or Hintern.

In English we’d say quite simply:

Look at the back of your computer.

A beamer is a BMW. What you probably mean is a projector.

A billion is a Milliarde. And a blackboard is a Schultafel, while a schwarzes Brett is a notice board.

To blame means beschuldigen, while jemanden blamieren means to make someone look foolish or to show someone up.

Do you see how important it is to know these false friends if you want to avoid awkward or unfortunate situations?

Perhaps you have some favourites to add to my list? But don’t worry. We’ll be looking at some more in the future.

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