Beware False French Friends…

Published 12th May 2011
post thumbnail

I don’t mean false friends of the human variety, thought they should be treated with caution, nor do I mean to imply that the French are untrustworthy. What I am talking about, of course, are actually called false cognates, but are more colloquially referred to as ‘false friends’. These are words in another language which look or sound like an equivalent to an English word, but actually have a completely different meaning. As a student of French and French translation, I have encountered many of these, and I wanted to share some of the worst examples with you, so that you don’t make the same mistakes as countless others. Here are some of the worst offenders…

‘Actuel’ – meaning ‘present, current’ and not ‘actual’. For actual, ‘réel’ is more appropriate.

’Assister à’ – meaning ‘to attend’, not ‘to assist’. Athough, with out the ’à’, it can mean ‘to assist’. Confusing or what?

’Crier’ – meaning ‘to shout’ not ‘to cry’.

’Expérience’ – meaning ‘experiment’ not ‘experience’ – so don’t put on your CV that you have ’Expérience’ – unless you’re applying to be a scientist…

’Location’ – meaning ‘rent, hire’ and not ‘location’. I told you these were tricky!

’Noise’ – another one which looks exactly like an English word, but means something completely different – this one means ‘quarrel’. The translation of our ‘noise’ is ’bruit’.

Can you think of any particularly nasty examples that I may have missed out here? I’m sure there are plenty! I’d also love to hear about any interesting or funny experiences that anyone has had when using a false cognate, help others to learn!

Read more about the French culture and language in our blog!

Article Name
Beware False French Friends...
Learn 6 False French Friends.
disney-institute-lingua-translations 178 × 75
amazon-lingua-translations 120 × 28
procter-gamble - Lingua Translations 114 × 92
london-partners-lingua-translations 154 × 101
Swansea City | Lingua Translations 154 x 146
Man City | Lingua Translations 154 × 154
FC_Barcelona_(crest) 154 × 156
Star_Wars_Logo.svg_-1 1280 × 773
FiFA | lingua Translations 154 × 86
The-Score 232x120
M & S 271 × 186
Walmart-Lingua Translations 232 × 65
Welsh Government & Lingua Translations 400 × 400
Costco & Lingua Translations 232 × 155


TUI-Group Testimonial 205 × 46 EN

Ian Chapman – Director of Holiday Experience –

“Lingua Translations provides instant multi-lingual options for TUI’s 24/7 Holidayline, so 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year TUI’s customers are connected to an interpreter instantaneously. This service is designed to help holidaymakers who find themselves in difficulty and require non-English language assistance.

The service offered by Lingua Translations provides us with instant translation for every destination we travel to, and has proved invaluable.”

International French Fries Day

Today is one of the best day of the year: the international French Fries Day. But let’s find out something about most people’s favourite guilty pleasure. Apparently, French fries are not French at all. Their origin can be tracked back to Belgium, where potatoes were allegedly being fried in the late-1600s. The legend says that …

Read More

Iceland – The Land of Ice and Fire

Iceland, the land of ice and fire, counted 350,710 inhabitants in 2016. The crazy thing is that, last summer, Iceland hosted 2 million tourists. Why are there so many people willing to visit this Nordic island? Here are some pieces of information that might interest you. Iceland has a very rich culture and a breath-taking scenery …

Read More
Get a quote today