German False Cognates

A German False Cognate, also known as a False Friend, is a German word that looks like an English word, but has a different meaning.

If the German word is spelled somewhat differently than the English word, this can help you realize that this is truly a foreign word, and probably not related to the English word it looks something like.

ENGLISH -- GERMAN

blanket -- Decke

doctor -- Arzt

emergency -- Notfall

five -- Fünf

map -- Karte

now -- jetzt

pillow -- Kissen

please -- bitte

receipt -- Quittung

twelve -- Zwölf

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Some German False Cognates look exactly like an English word, but actually mean another English word that is spelled somewhat like the German word.

It can be helpful if the German False Cognate has a different pronunciation than the English word it is spelled like -- because that makes it sound different than the English word it is spelled like, and helps make it clear that it is actually a foreign word.

ENGLISH -- GERMAN -- [SAY GERMAN]

aisle -- Gang -- [gahng]

bordello -- Puff -- [ ]

bland -- fad -- [fahd]

day -- Tag -- [tahk]

late (time) -- spät -- [shpayt]

left -- links -- [leenks]

plate -- Teller -- [‘teller’]

poison -- Gift -- [ ]

skirt -- Rock -- [rohk]

soon -- bald -- [‘bald’]

stove -- Herd -- [ ]

type / kind -- Art -- [‘art’]

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GERMAN RESEMBLING TWO ENGLISH WORDS

German that somewhat resembles two English words can be helpful or misleading. For example, the German word ‘KARTE’:

KARTE looks most like the English word ‘CART’, which is not what it means.

KARTE looks less like the English word ‘CARD’, which is what it means.

So when seeing this German word KARTE, the natural first reaction of an English-speaker who does not know German is to mistakenly think it is related to ‘CART’ in English.

With German words that are ambiguous in this way, the resemblance to English could work against you -- rather than help you understand and remember the German word more easily (as is true of other German words that resemble English words).

So when you see any German word that looks like two English words, it will help if you associate it with the correct English word.

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Link to GERMAN RESEMBLING TWO ENGLISH WORDS:


Return to German Resembling Two English Words.


Return to Easiest German Introduction.



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