Happy Easter!

Easter egg Osterei im Gras
A colorful Easter egg

Or is it "Happy Eastern"?

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post here about false friends, those tricky words that sound like something you know from German (or some other language), but have a different meaning in English.

 

At this time of year, you may want to wish your friends or colleagues a happy Easter. This can be tricky for German speakers, since "Ostern" in German sounds a lot like "eastern" in English!

 

These two words are a perfect example of false friends. They sound and look almost the same, but they have different meanings. If you want to learn the correct meaning of these kinds of false friends, here's one way you can write them down:

Easter Ostern false friend graphic

The green arrows show the correct definitions, and the red lines show the "false friend" connection. (Of course, you can change the colors or the way you organize these words however you want, to make things work better for you.)

 

Favorite false friends

Here are three of my favorite false friends, ones I hear often from my business English students. You can think of them, if you like, as my little presents for your Easter basket.

chocolate Easter bunny and egg

False friend #1

I have a new chef at the office. She seems really nice!

businesswoman smiling

What's wrong here?

 

If you are talking about your "Chefin," you should say:

I have a new boss at the office. She seems really nice!

 

The word "chef" in English means a skilled professional cook in a restaurant. A good German translation would be Sternekoch.

 

False friend #2

Martin always keeps his bureau neat and tidy.

What's wrong here?

 

You should say:

Martin always keeps his office neat and tidy.

 

The word "bureau" in English is a piece of furniture, usually in someone's bedroom, with drawers where you can store things (Kommode in German).

 

False friend #3

"Do you know what time it is?"

"You can check the clock on the left side of the floor."

corridor with clock

What's wrong here?

 

 

You should say:

"You can check the clock on the left side of the corridor."

 When you want to translate the German word Flur into English, choose one of these words:

  • corridor
  • hall
  • hallway

"Floor" in English is what you stand on inside a building. So "floor" in English means Boden in German.

purple design

I hope you enjoyed learning about some very common false friends. And I wish you a happy Easter (if you celebrate that holiday) or a nice weekend!