False friends or cognates are always a matter of laughter between teachers and students of languages. All of us try to assimilate words from the language we’re learning into our mother tongue’s vocabulary. A false friend is a word that has the same or similar spelling or pronunciation as another one in a different language.

As a result of that similarity, a lot of misunderstandings are caused. We’ve brought to Spanishviaskype’s blog not only cognates between English and Spanish, but also in Portuguese. However, today we’ll show you how German students have also their problems with Spanish false friends. So, if you are at La Costa del Sol this summer speaking with German boys and girls, be careful and don’t make a mess of it!

Don’t trust ‘angels’, they can be false friends

Let me start with my real name, Ángel. Those beings of light in charge of transmitting the news from God have a different meaning in German. They go fishing with angels, but not because of the advantage that these creatures can offer you with their wings; absolutely not.

Die Angel’ is ‘la caña de pescar’ (the fishing rod) in German!

Amigo español: Gracias por tu ayuda, Lukas, eres un ángel.

Amigo alemán: ¿Tan alto y delgado parezco?


Don’t be a false friend and buy a shelf as a present

A good idea to make German friends, if you are a tourist in Spain, is to buy ‘un regalo (a present) for them. Un buen jamón ibérico (a good Spanish ham) or paying some Spanish lessons for them might be good options. However, if you tell them you have bought ‘un regalo’, they might think you work at Ikea.

Das Regal’ is ‘el estante’ (the shelf) in German!

Amigo español: Te he comprado un regalo para que te acuerdes de España.

Amigo alemán: Pero, ¡mi casa ya tiene muebles!

Regalo is a false friend between Spanish and German

False friends and false hopes

Do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend? Are you having bad times in your relation? If you are planning to break up with him or her, don’t say ‘quiero terminar contigo; he or she can seem really happy for that! This can be one of the most dangerous false friends.

Der Termin is ‘la cita’ (the date) in German!

Novia española: ¡No te aguanto más! ¡Quiero terminar contigo!

Novio alemán: ¡Genial! ¿Mañana a las nueve en mi casa?

Do you play tennis as a rocket?

It’s summertime and we try to play sports every day in order to balance out all the months we did nothing during the year. If your German teammate lost his or her racket for your morning tennis match, don’t offer tu raqueta(your racket) or they can think you are a show-off, boasting about the power of your racket.

Die Rakete’ is ‘el cohete (the rocket) in German!

Jugador español: ¡Pégale a la bola! ¡Dale con la raqueta!

Jugador alemán: No, que la envío a la Luna.

Raqueta is a false friend between Spanish and GermanAre you going to the toilet with your father?

Imagine you are at the ‘chiringuito’ (beach bar), with your German friend and after some ‘sangrías’ and beers you need to empty your bladder out. Your body start shaking as a sign of emergency and your German friend asks you what happens and you say you need to go to el váter(the water-closet and the toilet); what a false friend! Your friend’s face can tell it all!

Der Vater’ is ‘el padre (the father) in German!

Amigo español: No aguanto más; necesito ir al váter.

Amigo alemán: Tienes treinta años; ¡puedes ir solo!

As you can see, misunderstandings, caused by false friends or cognates can be very funny, but also embarrasing. If you are German and want to avoid this problems in Spain, don´t hesitate and reserve lessons via Skype on Spanishviaskype.com: only ‘true friends’ like us can help you against ‘false friends’.