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Gift vs. Geschenk- Tricky False Friends Between German-English

There is a surprising number of false friends in German and English. False friends (the official term being "false cognates") are pairs of words that are often similar in spelling but with a significantly different meaning. To help students avoid common misunderstandings, I'm going to post the most frequent and trickiest false friends in the next couple of weeks. Today, we begin with the pair Gift vs. Geschenk, both of which exist in English but with very different meanings.

While the English word "gift" refers to a present, the German word "Gift" means poison. So you really don't want to confuse the two! The German for "gift" is "das Geschenk".

E.g. Sie hat mir ein Geschenk gegeben (She gave me a gift/present)

Im Labor befindet sich Gift (There is poison in the laboratory)

So watch out! 😜

My blog series on false friends in English and German continues with these confusing words:

Also vs. also

Bald vs. bald

Brand vs. Brand

Become vs. bekommen

Spenden vs. spend

Fast vs. fast

Blenden vs. blend

Schmuck vs. schmuck

Art vs. art

Bad vs. bad

Chef vs. chef

Meinung vs. meaning

Brav vs. brave

Fast vs. fast

On our German language blog, you'll find many other posts about the language. For instance, we have a post on German sayings and proverbs, German compound nouns and their meaning, on the ten most useful German verbs, and many posts on German grammar- from adjective endings in German, an explanation of the German cases, Gender rules in German, to German word order in main and subordinate clauses.

Find out more about our German lessons, small German classes, and new online German courses here.

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