Les faux amis between French and English


False friends between French and English

As two of the world's most widely spoken languages, French and English share a lot of similarities in terms of vocabulary and grammar. However, there are also many instances where these languages can lead to confusion due to the concept of "false friends." False friends are words that look or sound similar in both languages but have different meanings. 

Just like some French expressions, false friends can cause confusion and miscommunication, particularly for language learners. When a word in one language is similar to a word in another language, it's easy to assume that they have the same meaning. However, this is not always the case. False friends are common between languages that have a shared history, such as French and English. French and English have been in contact for hundreds of years, and as a result, many words have entered each language from the other. Some of these words have changed meaning over time or developed different connotations, leading to the creation of false friends.

In this article, we'll explore this phenomenon in more detail and provide five examples of false friends between French and English.


In English, sensible means reasonable or practical.
In French, sensible means sensitive or emotional.


In English, deception means to deceive or mislead someone.
In French, déception means disappointment.


    This one is necessary if you plan on moving to a francophone country.
    In English, location means a place or position. In French, location means rental or lease.


    In English, actual means real or existing in fact.
    In French, actual means current or up-to-date.


    In English, chair means a piece of furniture for sitting.
    In French, chair means flesh or meat.

    These examples illustrate how easy it can be to confuse words between two languages, particularly if you are not a native speaker. False friends can lead to awkward or embarrassing situations, as well as misunderstandings that can affect communication in professional and personal settings.

    To avoid false friends, it's important to learn vocabulary in context and to be aware of the differences in meaning between words in different languages. Language learners should also seek out resources that explain false friends and provide examples, such as dictionaries, language textbooks, and online language learning platforms.

    In conclusion, false friends are a common phenomenon between languages, and French and English are no exception. Understanding the concept of false friends is essential for effective communication in a multilingual world. By being aware of false friends, language learners can avoid confusion and improve their language skills.

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