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Become vs. bekommen - Tricky False Friends in German and English

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

These two lookalike verbs are as confusing to English as they are to German native speakers. "False friends" (or "false cognates") like become and bekommen are pairs of words that are often similar in spelling but with a significantly different meaning. In this post, I will explain the difference in meaning between become and bekommen.

While the English word "to become" translates as "werden" in German, "bekommen" means "to get, to receive" in English. So when I overheard some German tourists in a London restaurant placing their order by saying "Can I please become a beefsteak", they didn't quite say what they intended to.

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