Italian and English possess are surprisingly-large number of cognates. Italian words such as farmacia (pharmacy), intelligente (intelligent), and necessario (necessary) mean exactly what a native English speaker would expect them to mean. This shared linguistic history means that Italian language learners need to be extra wary of false friends. These are words in Italian that look like words in English that you know but either have different meanings or are cognates with different English words than you might expect. Below are a dozen commonly-used Italian-English false friends.
Attualmente means “currently.” To express “actually” in Italian, you should use in realtà (in reality).
Baldo translates to “bold” or “courageous,” not “bald.” If you’re referring to a lack of hair, use calvo.
Camera means “room.” A device used to take pictures is la macchina fotografic.
Confrontare translates as “to compare” in English. To talk about a confrontation, use far fronte a or affrontare.
This Italian word is a cognate with “comprehend,” in the sense that it means “understanding,” “inclusive,” and “sympathetic.” However, comprensivo cannot mean “comprehensive.” The Italian word for that is esauriente.
Dente means “tooth,” not dent. A deformation in the surface of an object would be ammaccatura.
Eventuale helps express possibilities in Italian. If you want to say the equivalent of the English word “eventually,” use finalmente.
Libreria refers exclusively to a place where books are sold (i.e. a bookstore). A place where you can check out books for free is a biblioteca.
Magazzino means “warehouse.” If you’re looking for a magazine to read, ask for a periodico or rotocalco.
Parente refers to any relative, while genitore, madre, and padre translate to “parent,” “mother,” and “father,” respectively.
Rumore means “noise” or “sound.” A rumor would be voce diffusa.
Simpatico translates as “nice” but can’t be used to express sympathy. If you want to say that you’re sympathetic to a person or situation, use the word comprensivo from earlier in this list.