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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.

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!

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

They shared a can of coffee at the café.

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.

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.

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

Several suppliers give his company thirty days' credit.

This is correct.

He bought a dining table with six stools.

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.

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.

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.

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

For our first course we became a bowl of soup.

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

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

Good English
     novel = Roman

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

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.

Good English.
Schraubenschlüssel = spanner
Spanner = peeping tom

My chef specialises in preparing fish.

     Küchenchef = chef
     Chef = boss

The warehouse is for storing finished products and raw materials.

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