Take note of these 12 common false friends in English!
Are you developing your vocabulary in English? Remember that not all words that look and sound familiar to your language have the same meaning. These are called false friends – so they look and sound the same, but the meaning is entirely different. So, watch out for these hilarious false friends in Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
Spanish-English False Friends
1. Embarazada vs. Embarrassing
In English, the word ‘embarrassing‘ is a synonym for humiliating. Spare yourself the humiliation with this one – in Spanish, the word ‘Embarazo‘ means pregnancy, while ‘Embarazada‘ means pregnant.
2. Constipado vs. Constipated
Even though the Spanish are quite open people, they don’t usually speak up about their bowels. In English, ‘to be constipated’ means to have blocked bowels, while a ‘constipado‘ is a common cold in Spanish.
3. Emocionado vs. Emotional
In English, ‘getting emotional‘ means when you are moved to tears in a heartwarming or upsetting situation. ‘Emocionado‘ can mean both excited and moved in Spanish, which is tricky, as it doesn’t translate to ’emotional’ in all contexts. While you can get ‘emocionado‘ on a roller coaster, you wouldn’t get ’emotional’ on a roller coaster!
French-English False Friends
4. Douche vs. Douche
If you call someone a ‘douche‘ in English, you mean they’re obnoxious. In French, ‘douche‘ means shower.
5. Sale vs. Sale
In English ‘sales‘ refer to the seasonal discounts on products. If you see something that is ‘sale‘ in French, it doesn’t mean it’s sold at a discount, but that it’s dirty.
6. Jolie vs. Jolly
If you call someone ‘jolly‘ in English you’re complementing their happy and uplifting attitude. In French, ‘jolie‘ is still a compliment, but it means pretty.
German-English False Friends
7. Das Gift vs. Gift
In English, giving someone a ‘gift’ is when you give them a present, like on their birthday. ‘Das Gift’ in German means poison/toxic! Not the best present for someone’s birthday.
8. Winken vs. Wink
Everyone can ‘winken‘ but not everyone can wink. In English, a ‘wink‘ is a cheeky or flirty gesture that some people can do by closing one eye. In German, ‘winken‘ just means wave.
9. Die Art vs. Art
If you see ‘die art’ near a strange word, it’s not what you’re thinking. In German ‘die art’ means type/kind/sort and has nothing to do with art as a form of expression.
Italian-English False Friends
10. Annoiare vs. To Annoy
These two are quite the opposite! If somebody is ‘annoying‘ you, they are irritating you, like a mosquito buzzing around your head when you are trying to sleep. And if you use the word ‘annoiare‘ it means you’re bored.
11. Baldo vs. Bald
A ‘bald‘ person is someone who lost all their hair. While calling someone ‘bald‘ in English can be offensive, in Italian ‘boldo‘ is courageous.
12. Caldo vs. Cold
When you’re ‘cold‘ in English, you’re shivering and need to put on more clothes or switch on the heating. This is another case of direct opposites – in Italian, ‘caldo‘ actually means hot.
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