Did you love our post last week about false friends in English and German? 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 (grow, make bigger) your language knowledge, here are six more false friends in English and German and their meanings!
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?
For example (wonder):
- I wonder what we’re going to have for dinner tonight. I hope it’s spaghetti!
- Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you did something different?
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!
For example (where):
- Where are you going this weekend? Are you going to the beach?
- Do you know where you’re going? Are we lost?
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!
For example (spend):
- I usually spend a lot of money on books.
- He doesn’t have a lot of extra money to spend, but when he does, he likes to buy things for his friends.
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!
For example (overhear):
- I overheard our boss talking about our sales in the kitchen. It doesn’t seem like the company is doing so well.
- She couldn’t help but overhear people talking about her at the party.
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 (be finished). 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, while graben in German means to dig. Don’t dig yourself into a hole with this false friend!
For example (grab):
- Can I grab you for a second? I need to tell you something in private.
- The baby grabbed the toy away from his older sister.
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.
For example (wander):
- The mother had to tell her children not to wander around the store, even if they were bored.
- I realized I had been sitting for a long time at work, so I got up from my desk and wandered around for a couple of minutes to stretch my legs.
Did you like these new false friends in English? Have you had trouble with any of them before? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
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Check out these other popular blogs: Taboo words in English, 7 Synonyms for Being Drunk, 7 American English Slang Words, or these Sports Idioms used in English!
Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and will always give you a hand with false friends in English!
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