What are the most common French false friends?

Learning a new language have its ups and downs, there are so many things to consider and learning techniques to master, and certainly one of them is to know that our brain can play tricks on us every now and then.

French false friends
It’s only natural, learning a new language can be like wiring our brain differently. And since our frame of reference is our native language, our brain can be tented to relate some concepts or terms just by how they look. This is what false friends are.

A false friend (In language learning) is a word that you see in another language and by its composition can seem similar to an English word, so you might be tented to make the translation right away by relating the both of them. But in reality, that word has its own meaning that has nothing to do with what might be in the English language.

Comparing french false friends
This makes false friends so tricky and frustrating to deal with. Because our brain loves to jump to conclusions, especially when speaking a different language, we have the urge to express ourselves in a natural manner.

Knowing false friends is a key part of learning any language and sadly, there are no recipes for knowing them. You have to know them by heart and repeat them constantly so your brain stops doing the false association and you get in power of the situation when speaking or reading.

Knowing this, let’s review some of the most common French false friends between English and French, you can also find them as French false cognates.

Most common French false friends (Faux Amis)French false friends examples

French: Une affaire - for business

English: Affair - une aventure, une liaison


French: Un bras - arm

English: Bra - un soutien-gorge (female undergarment)

French: Blesser - to wound

English: To bless - bénir


French: Coin - Corner

English: Coin - Money


French: La chair - flesh

English: Chair - chaise (To sit)


French: Joli - pretty

English: Jolly - happy


French: Attendre - To wait

English: to attend - assister à (to go someplace)


French: Personne - (a person/no one - depending on the context)

English: Person - (someone)


French: Une journée - day

English: Journey - un voyage


French: Rester - To stay in a place

English: To rest - Se reposer


French: Une main - A hand

English: Main - Principal


French: Mémoire - A recollection

English: Memory - un souvenir


French: Sale - dirty

English: Sale - une vente


French: Une race - A breed

English: A race - Une course (Competition)


French: Un préservatif - A condom

English: Preservative - un conservateur


French: Pain - bread

English: Pain - la douleur

We hope that this list of false friends will be useful for you. Remember, it’s important to practice these words in your daily routine so you get used to them and to let your brain know about the right connection between them. And, keep practicing your French with all the courses that we offer for you. À bientôt!

Written by Alejandro Ramirez G



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