1.6 C
New York
Thursday, November 30, 2023

German Grammar: Fixing German False Cognates

german grammar

German grammar could be tough to grasp. Beneath, German instructor Noel S. shares an inventory of the commonest false cognates, in addition to workout routines you are able to do to memorize these necessary phrases…

College students studying German are sometimes relieved to listen to that they have already got a “head begin” from the various recognizable German phrases that share the identical English that means, also referred to as cognates. Cognates are a fantastic for studying German, as college students have already developed psychological associations with phrases and their definitions.

Nonetheless, one should look out for false cognates—two phrases showing to be comparable or the identical, however with completely different meanings. It’s necessary that you just study the various German false cognates, or you would make a serious linguistic mistake, like I did within the story beneath.

Once I observed a giant bandage on my good friend’s elbow, I pointed to it and remarked, “Du hattest einen Abfall!” I had meant to say, “You had an accident!” however what I actually mentioned was, “You had a rubbish!” – as if he had trash on his arm.

What’s an Instance of a False Cognate?

Group of adults learning German together
domoyega / E+ / Getty Photographs

German is a notoriously tough language for English audio system to study. A part of the explanation for that is the big variety of false cognates, phrases that look like just like English phrases however even have a unique that means. For instance:

  • The German “present” means poison, whereas the English phrase present means a gift.
  • Damit (which implies with it, not dam)
  • Krank (which implies sick, not rank)
  • Qual (which implies torture, not qualm). 

These false cognates can journey up even skilled German audio system, so it’s necessary to pay attention to them when studying the language.

The easiest way to familiarize your self with these German false cognates is to take German classes with a talented instructor. You’ll study the whole lot you’ll want to know so as to inform the distinction between all of them, in addition to enjoyable German talking abilities like these you see within the video beneath:


What’s a German Cognate?

Mature business woman reading a book on a train
Hinterhaus Productions / Stone / Getty Photographs

A cognate is a phrase that’s associated to a different phrase in the identical language or from a unique language. German cognates are phrases which might be associated to English phrases. The phrase “cognate” comes from the Latin phrase “cognatus,” which implies “born collectively.” 

German and English share many cognates as a result of they’re each Germanic languages. Which means that they share a standard ancestor. When English was first spoken, it was similar to German. 

Over time, the 2 languages have modified and developed, however they nonetheless have many similarities. For instance, the German phrase “Haus” is cognate with the English phrase “home.” The German phrase “Kinder” is cognate with the English phrase “child.” And the German phrase “Vater” is cognate with the English phrase “father.” 

There are a whole bunch of German cognates, and they could be a nice solution to study new vocabulary. They will additionally enable you to perceive articles and different texts in German.

Whenever you see a German cognate, you could be assured that what it means. Cognates may also enable you to sound extra pure when talking German. For instance, if you wish to say “I reside in a home,” you may say “Ich wohne in einem Haus.” 

This sentence makes use of two cognates: “wohnen” (to reside) and “Haus” (home). Utilizing cognates may also help you sound extra like a local speaker of German.

What’s the Nickname for a False Cognate?

Close up of a blonde woman thinking while on her laptop
Cecilie_Arcurs / E+ / Getty Photographs

A false cognate is a phrase that appears and sounds just like one other phrase in a unique language however has a unique that means. False cognates are also referred to as false mates. The time period false cognate is commonly used within the context of language studying, when college students are first uncovered to a overseas language. 

False cognates could be a supply of confusion and may typically result in embarrassing conditions. For instance, the Spanish phrase “embarazada” appears to be like and sounds just like the English phrase “embarrassed,” however it really means “pregnant.” The Spanish phrase for “embarrassed” is “avergonzado.” 

Whereas false cognates could be amusing, they can be irritating for language learners who’re attempting to construct their vocabulary. Nonetheless, with just a little apply, false cognates could be simply averted.

10 German False Cognates to Be Conscious Of

Female instructor wearing a skirt giving a German language lesson
powerofforever / E+ / Getty Photographs

Listed here are some examples of false cognates in German:

  • das Band – This phrase means “tape,” not “band” as in a bunch of musicians.
  • Das BIP – This phrase means “brand” or “image,” not “bip.”
  • der Finger – This phrase means “finger,” not “to provide somebody the finger.”
  • das Reward – This phrase means “poison,” not “present.” Clearly, this one might result in some critical misunderstandings!
  • die Hand – This phrase means “hand,” not “to have intercourse.” Once more, that is one other one that would trigger some critical issues when you’re not cautious.
  • das Kino – This phrase means “cinema,” not “kinky.”
  • der Rock – This phrase means “skirt,” not “rock music.”
  • der Stiefel – This phrase means “boot,” not “stiff.” So don’t ask somebody to purchase you a stiff boot until you need them to suppose you’re into S&M!
  • das Wetter – This phrase means “climate,” not “water.” So don’t go asking folks concerning the water once you actually imply the rain or snow.
  • die Zeit – This phrase means “time,” not “tea.” So don’t ask for tea once you actually need to know what time it’s. Until, in fact, you’re really craving some tea…through which case, by all means, ask away! Simply bear in mind that almost all Germans will in all probability suppose you’re just a little bit bizarre when you do.

Suggestions for Mastering False Cognates German English Learners Ought to Know

Two men learning German together
domoyega / E+ / Getty Photographs

It’s higher to advance in your linguistic abilities than to make humorous errors just like the one I did above. So, let’s discover the commonest German phrases that look and sound like English phrases, however have completely different meanings.

German False Cognates

Now that you just’ve familiarized your self with the widespread false cognates above, what are you able to do to create neural pathways connecting new meanings for these German phrases? Strive making associations with phrases associated to the false cognate in German. For instance, Ratten/das Gift (rats/poison) or Fahrt/schön (a pleasant/lovely journey).

Phrase Financial institution German False Cognates Exercise

You may as well apply by utilizing these phrases in a sentence. Full the next sentences by inserting the right German phrase from the phrase financial institution beneath. Strive not to take a look at the English model earlier than attempting to determine by yourself which phrase must be positioned within the sentence.

word bank

1. Wir sollen _______ essen. I fühle mich hungrig!

We must always eat _______. I really feel hungry!

2. _______ ist meinen Rock? Ich kann ihn nicht finden.

_______ is my skirt? I can’t discover it.

3. Ich habe die Schweiz besucht. _______war sehr schön!

I’ve visited Switzerland. ________ was very lovely!

4. Meine Storage hat Ratten. Ich werde ________ kaufen.

My storage has rats. I’ll purchase _______.

5. Meine Sommerkleidung sind _______er. Ich trage dunkle Kleidung im Winter.

My summer time garments are _______. I put on dark-colored garments in winter.

German English False Cognates – Pay Consideration and You’ll Have No Issues

Female instructor writing a German lesson on a chalkboard
fotografixx / E+ / Getty Photographs

False cognates are phrases that look comparable in English and German however have completely different meanings. 

There are various false cognates within the German language, so it is very important know which of them to be careful for. 

By being conscious of those variations, it is possible for you to to kind right sentences with much less effort and fewer errors.

Don’t be fooled by the false cognates above. Work with a German instructor to seek out different distinctive methods of memorizing these widespread phrases and perfecting your German grammar!

Noel SNoel S. teaches German and music classes in Beachwood, OH. He minored in German throughout his undergraduate research and holds a Masters diploma in music from Dusquesne College. Noel has been instructing since 2001. Be taught extra about Noel



Free TakeLessons Resource

Photograph by Jared Tarbell

Suzy S.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles