False Friends – Part Two

Did you love our post last week about false friends in German and English! Then just for you, here’s part two. If you missed out, find part one here! And in case you need a little catching up as to what false friends are, they’re words in languages that look the same, but have different meanings.


If you’re looking to expand your language knowledge, here are six more English/German false friends and their meanings!


Wonder / sich wundern

Do you wonder about differences between German and English? Could it be the difference between wonder and sich wundern?


Wonder in English means to be curious about something, while sich wundern in German means to be surprised about something.


Aren’t the differences between languages wonderful?


Where / wer

This is a false friend that works more when you’re speaking than when you’re writing.


Where in English means “in what place or position,” while if someone says “wer” in German, they’re saying “who.”


The next time you’re talking to someone, make sure you have your where‘s and who‘s in order. It’ll be much less confusing!


Spend / spenden

Do you spend your money wisely, or donate it to a good cause? It might depend on which language you’re speaking!


To spend in English is to give money for something, while spenden in German is to donate money.


Spend your money with good intention and think of donating to a wonderful cause!


Overhear / überhören

This is another tricky one for German learners, as it seems like it would make sense to use überhören if you overheard something. But in German, überhören has a very different meaning!


In English, if you overhear something, it means that you heard something without the speaker knowing it. In German, however, überhören means to miss or ignore something.


Don’t miss out, and listen very carefully during your next meeting!


Grab / graben

This one may be more for the German learners out there, as I know when I was learning German, if I didn’t know a certain verb, I would take the English word, stick an -en on the end, and have done with it. But don’t do that if you want to grab the salt from someone!


Where in English, grab means to seize something suddenly, or take get someone’s attention, graben in German means to dig.


So don’t dig yourself into a hole with this false friend!


Wander / wandern

Do you like to wander around? Me too (in both meanings of the word)!


In English, to wander is to walk around without a certain goal. In German, wandern is to go hiking.


The next time you need a break, take a wander around the office, or take a weekend to go on a hike! Getting out in nature can help your mental health and make you more focused.



Do you know of any other false friends in English and German? What about other languages? Share with us in the comments below!


Erin Duffin lives in Berlin, is an English teacher,  yoga instructor, and loves to wonder and wander while hiking!




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