This week we’ll be turning our attention to another set of German-English false friends. As English is a Germanic language, there are many cognates between the two languages. However, this shared history also makes distinguishing between true cognates and false friends especially challenging. Be careful not to confuse the following German words with similarly spelled English words, and never assume that a familiar-looking word in another language has the same meaning as it does in English.
Die art refers to particular type of something. It can refer to a kind of art, but not art itself. To accomplish that in German, you’ll need to use die kunst.
Chef is actually the German word for a boss or someone else in a supervisory position. If you have a particularly delicious meal and want to compliment the chef, make sure you use der koch, which is derived from the German verb meaning “to cook.”
Unlike in English, you don’t want to receive das gift in German. This is because the German word means “toxic” or “poisonous.” Remember to use das geschenk when talking about giving someone a present, lest people think you are planning something sinister.
This false friend is actually the German word for “child.” If you want to talk about a particular kind of someone or something, including a child, use die art. If you want to say that someone is a kind person, there are several adjectives that you can use, including freundlich.
Die Rente and der rentner refer to a pension and a pensioner, respectively. In a sense, this is the opposite meaning of the English “rent,” which involves giving a landlord money in exchange for living in a property that he or she owns. Incidentally, if you do need to discuss the rent with your landlord, you’ll want to use die miete.
Taste refers to a musical key or the kind of key you press on a machine. If you need to ask for the key to a door, use der schlüssel. If you would like a taste of someone else’s meal, use