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Identical words, different meanings - German & English

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:10 pm    Post subject: Identical words, different meanings - German & English Reply with quote

While learning German, you will encounter words which are identical with English words. These are ‘false cognates’ or ‘false friends’.

It’s good to know the differences, otherwise it’s going to confuse you Smile

1) ‘kind’ is an adjective in English - nett or freundlich (in German)

He is a very kind person - Er ist ein sehr freundlicher Mensch.

‘das Kind’ is a Noun in German - ‘child’ in English (pl. die Kinder - children)

Das Kind meiner Schwester ist dumm - My sister's child is stupid.

Kinder leiden sehr unter der Trennung ihrer Eltern - Children suffer greatly from their parents' separation.

die Trennung – breakup, separation.

Verb: leiden – to suffer (past and past participle: lit, gelitten)

Er leidet unter Asthma - He is suffering from asthma.

2) ‘Gift’ or ‘present’ in English - in German ‘das Geschenk’ (pl. die Geschenke)

Thanks for the gift - Danke für das Geschenk.

I thank God for the wonderful gift - Ich danke Gott für das wunderschöne Geschenk.

‚das Gift‘ in German is a noun – ‚poison‘ in English (pl. die Gifte)

Cyanid ist ein tödliches Gift - Cyanide is a deadly poison.

3) English ‚Hell‘ is a noun, in German it means ‚die Hölle‘ (pl. die Höllen)

Im Hinduismus spielt die Vorstellung von Hölle eine untergeordnete Rolle - In Hinduism, the idea of hell plays a minor role (Source: Wikipedia)

The German adjective ‚hell‘ means ‚bright‘ in English.

Mein Zimmer ist hell - My room is bright

Das Zimmer ist modern und hell - The room is modern and bright.

4) In English the adverb ‘not’ is mainly used for an expression of refusal or denial, whereas in German ‘die Not’ usually means something ‘emergency’.

die Not – emergency, hardship (pl. die Nöte)

For example: ‘der Notdienst’ means emergency service where someone gets help outside the normal opening hours. Some examples are:

ärztlicher Notdienst – emergency medical service

Apothekennotdienst – Pharmacies/Drugstores open outside regular time (something like Drugstores in Service on emergency demands)

There is a common Saying in German:

In der Not erkennt man seine Freunde - A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Verb: erkennen – to recognize, to identify (past & past participle: erkannte, erkannt)

Read more: Common proverbs/sayings in German

5) In English ‘Bar’ means bar or nightclub like Irish Bar (more commonly known as Irish Pub)

In German ‘bar’ is adjective meaning cash.

Zahlen Sie mit Karte oder bar – Do you pay with card or in cash?

6) ‘Das All’ in German – Universe

Das All ist unendlich groß - The universe is infinitely large.

whereas in English ‘all’ is a pronoun which in German – alles, jeder or aller etc.

All the Best! - Alles gute!

Everything is fine/ Everything is in order - Alles ist in Ordnung.

7) ‘der Fund’ in German – finding or discovery (pl. die Funde)

Archäologischer Funde in China - Archaeological findings in China.

Der unglaubliche Fund eines Archäologen - The incredible discovery of an archaeologist.

whereas English ‘fund’ is a noun, something related to financial or banking sector (In German – der Fonds)

European Regional Development Fund - Europäische Fonds für regionale Entwicklung.

8 ) In English ‘hang’ is a verb,

In German ‘der Hang’ is a noun – slope, hillside

Es liegt am Hang eines Berges unterhalb des Gipfels - It is located on a mountainside below the summit.

der Berg – hill, mountain (pl. die Berge)

der Gipfel - summit, peak (die Gipfel)

9) ‚der Ton‘ in German is a noun - sound, tone (pl. die Töne)

Der Ton macht die Musik – The sound makes the music.

In English ‚ton’ is a measure of weight - 1 Metric ton is equal to 1000 Kilogram

10) In German ‘die Last’ is a noun - load or burden (pl. die Lasten)

Jeder muss seine Last tragen - Everyone must bear his own burden.

Jeder wird seine eigene Last tragen (Bibel) - Everyone will bear his own burden (Bible)

Heben und Tragen von Lasten - Lifting and carrying of loads.

Einer von uns muss die Last tragen - One of us has to bear the burden.

whereas ‘last’ in English is an adjective (German - ‘letzte’)

The last survivor of the disaster dies at 100 years - Der letzte Überlebende der Katastrophe stirbt mit 100 Jahren.


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