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False Friends

False friends are German words which look like English words …

… but have a completely different meaning! 

For example, in the above sentence, the English word “meaning” translates as “Bedeutung” in German - notMeinung” (which is “opinion” in English).

Here are sixteen sentences. They are all grammatically correct, but eight of them are nonsense to English speakers, because they use a German-sounding word with an English meaning!

Can you spot the eight sentences written in “Engleutsch?” What do they mean?

Click a sentence to check:

On Sundays my wife brings me breakfast in bed on a tablet.

wrong
This is nonsense in English! 
A German translation of this sentence would be:

Sonntags bringt mir meine Frau das Frauhstück ans Bett auf einer Pille.

Pille = tablet (in English) Tablett = tray


They had such a loud argument that I could hear it from the other side of the road!

wrong
This is correct English.
    Streit = argument
    Argument = point of view


They shared a can of coffee at the café.

wrong
This is nonsense! 
     Im Café teilten sie sich eine Büchse Kaffee.
     Kanne = pot
     Büchse = can


There are twelve floors in the house where he works.

wrong
This is wrong because:
    A building is a place where you work, and a house is a place where you live.


The sunlight was so bright that my colleague put the jealousy down.

wrong
Nonsense!
Das Sonnenlicht war so hell, daß mein Kollege die Eifersucht runterzog.
Eifersucht = jealousy
Jalousie = (venetian) blind


Several suppliers give his company thirty days' credit.

wrong
This is correct.


He bought a dining table with six stools.

wrong
This is possible but unlikely!
    Er kaufte sich ein Tisch mit sechs Hockern.
    Stuhl = chair


You can borrow my new car tonight, but I will be very angry when you crash it.

wrong
This is an “if or when” problem. 
    Where "wenn"="falls", you must use "if".
    "When" here means: "it is certain that you will crash the car".


Many people believe that Great Britain is only one country, but actually it consists of three countries.

wrong
This one is okay. 
    The translation of “actually” is “eigentlich”


She’s an ordinary girl who works from nine to five and drives a Ford.

wrong
This is good, inoffensive English!
     dt. "normal" = engl. "ordinary"
     dt. "ordinär" = engl. "vulgar"


For our first course we became a bowl of soup.

wrong
Nonsense!
     Für unseren ersten Gang wurden wir zur Suppenschüssel 
     bekommen = get
     werden = become


I particularly enjoy reading novels with more than three hundred pages.

wrong
Good English
     novel = Roman


I just got a shock! There must be something wrong with the isolation in that power drill.

wrong
More nonsense!
Ich habe gerade ein Schock bekommen. Es ist bestimmt etwas verkehrt mit der Einsamkeit der Bohrmaschine.
Isolation = insulation


He uses a spanner to repair the car.

wrong
Good English.
Schraubenschlüssel = spanner
Spanner = peeping tom


My chef specialises in preparing fish.

wrong
Okay. 
     Küchenchef = chef
     Chef = boss


The warehouse is for storing finished products and raw materials.

wrong
A “Warenhaus” is a “department store” in English, so this one is okay, too!