July 2016

5 German False Friends to Watch Out For

German and English both hail from the same Germanic linguistic family, so they share a great deal of vocabulary.

But there is quite a number of false friends lurking behind corners waiting to trip up the unsuspecting, amateur language learner.

Here’s a look at the top five false friends (according to those I can come up with as I write this).


1) Aktuell ≠ actual

Aktuell actually means current or up-to-date.


2) Gift ≠ gift

It is wise to be wary of any German gift, for Gift is quite literally poison.


3) eventuell ≠ eventually

While something that is eventuell may indeed happen eventually, the word can best be translated as possible.


4) Rat ≠ rat

If a wise German offers you a friendly Rat, be sure to take his advice!


5) Unternehmer ≠ undertaker

Whilst a lot of Unternehmer operate in Germany, not all companies are in the undertaking business.


False friends can easily trip up amateur linguists, which is why it is so important to place your trust in a qualified professional when it comes to your translations.

Are you able to name any other false friends? Write a comment below!