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False Cognates — Part 3


I. Theory

In German, there is a wide variety of words that look and sound similar to words we have in English. When these words share a common meaning in both languages, they are known as cognates. However, words that look similar and don’t have the same meaning are known as false cognates or falsche Freunde.

In the following examples, we see that the meaning of the German words in question are not what they seem.

Wir kennen einander vom Gymnasium.
We know one another from high school.

Das ist eventuell eine Lösung für das Problem.
Potentially, this is a solution to the problem.

Der Autor hat die Kritik einfach überhört.
The author simply ignored the criticism.

II. Falsche Freunde

This lesson will focus on four false cognates: Gymnasium, eventuell, Warenhaus and überhören. For each false cognate, the English definition is provided along with the word it may be confused with. The word in parenthesis is the correct German word for the word in quotation marks.

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