Monday, June 6, 2011

false friends are words that appear to be the same in two or more languages, but have a different meaning.
below are several false friend of english and french

achever - not to achieve but to finish, complete as in Il vient d'achever son service militaire - He's just finished his military service. The English to achieve can be translated by atteindre, réaliser, accomplir.
actuel(lement) - not actual(ly) but current(ly): Elle est actuellement en Suisse - She's currently in Switzerland. The English actually is usually translated by en fait.
agenda (m) - not an agenda in a meeting (ordre du jour) but a diary.
amateur (m) - although as in English this can have the meaning of non-professional, it more commonly means enthusiast (as in un amateur de jazz - a jazz lover).
apprécier - not just appreciate but also to estimate or assess : apprécier les conséquences - to assess the consequences.
assister / assistance - when used with à means to be present at, as in Il n'a pas assisté à la réunion - He wasn't present at the meeting. Note also that assistance can mean audience as well as assistance.
assumer - not to assume (= supposer) but to take on (responsibility) or accept (a situation).
assurance (f) - means insurance as well as assurance.
balancer - not to balance (= équilibrer, se tenir en équilibre) but to sway.
blâmer - not to blame (= reprocher qch à qn / en vouloir à qn) but to criticize.
caméra - not a camera for taking photos (= un appareil photo) but a film / TV camera.
casserole (m) - not a casserole (= un ragoût) but a saucepan.
caution (f) - not caution (= prudence, circonspection or avertissement) but deposit, security or bail.
cave (m) - not a cave (= une grotte) but a cellar.
change - The English change is most commonly translated by un changement: un changement de direction = a change of direction. The English change in the sense of loose change = lachauffeur (m) - not just an English chauffeur, but any kind of professional driver e.g. un chauffeur de taxi - a taxi driver.
Resource provided by the website
Copyright The Manchester Metropolitan University 2004. All rights reserved. C Dawson
page 1
chips (mpl) - not chips (= frites - fpl) but crisps. The English chip in the computer sense is une puce.
cohérent - more commonly consistent as in une position cohérente - a consistent position. The sentence He was barely coherent = On avait peine à le comprendre.
collège (m) - not college as in university but a secondary school up to the age of 16.
comédien(ne) (m) - not comedien (= comique) but actor.
commande (f) - not command (=ordre) but order in the commercial or restaurant sense. Une télécommande is a remote-control.
compléter - more commonly means to supplement or complement rather than to complete (= terminer, achever).
conception (f), concevoir - in the commercial sense means design, to design rather than conceive, conception.
conducteur (m) - not the conductor of a bus (= contrôlleur) or an orchestra (chef d'orchestre) but a driver.
conférence - not a conference (= un congrès, une réunion) but a lecture or speech.
conforter - not to comfort (= réconforter) but to support, strengthen.
contrôler - more commonly means to check (as in contrôler les billets / passeports). The English to control is most often translated by dominer, maîtriser etc.
courage (m) - not just courage but also energy. The expression bon courage means variously good luck, cheer up or other positive wishes depending on the context.
cours (m) - means an individual class as well as a course. A course in a school is un programme and in a university is un cursus.
décevoir, deception - not to deceive (= tromper) but to disappoint. Note also the noun déception (f) meaning not deception (= une tromperie) but disappointment.
dégoûter - although can mean to disgust, is often translated by the milder to put off : Ne te laisse pas dégoûter par la couleur - Don't let the colour put you off.
délai (m) - not delay (= retard) but a timeperiod for doing something : Tu as un délai de 30 jours pour payer - You have 30 days in which to pay. Note also the expression dans les meilleurs délais - as soon as possible. monnaie, whilst the French change (m) means foreign currency as in bureau de change.
chauffeur (m) - not just an English chauffeurdélai (m) - not delay (= retard) but a timeperiod for doing something : Tu as un délai de 30 jours pour payer - You have 30 days in which to pay. Note also the expression dans les meilleurs délais - as soon as possible.
Resource provided by the website
Copyright The Manchester Metropolitan University 2004. All rights reserved. C Dawson
page 2
demander - not to demand (= exiger) but to ask for.
député (m) - not deputy (= un adjoint) but a member of the Assemblée Nationale (the French Parliament).
dessin - not design (= la conception) but a drawing. Un dessein = a project, plan.
déstiné - often means to be aimed at, intended for. For example, Des mesures destinées à réduire le taux de chômage = Measures aimed at reducing unemployment
détail (m) - means not only detail but also retail (as in le prix de détail - retail price). Note also un détaillant - a retailer (as opposed to un grossiste - wholesaler) and acheter au détail - to buy retail (as opposed to acheter en gros - to buy wholesale).
détenir - not to detain (= retenir, placer en détention) but to possess.
disposer de - not to dispose of (= se débarasser de) but to have (at your disposal).
dossier (m) - not just file or dossier, but in a media context commonly used to mean issue, affair. Le dossier Elf - The Elf affair.
éditeur (m) - not editor (= rédacteur) but publisher.
effectif (m) - none of the meaning of the adjective effective (= efficace) but workforce (or in an educational context number of students).
énergétique - not energetic as used to describe a person (= energique) but relatiing to energy as a resource: les ressources énergétique - energy resources.
engin (m) - not engine (= un moteur) but device: un engin de fermeture - a locking device.
enquête (f) - much broader meaning than inquest, including inquiry, investigation and survey.
équipement (m) - not only equipment (more commonly =matériel) but facilities: équipments sportifs - sports facilities.
éventuel(lement) - not eventual(ly) (= fiexpérience (f) / expérimenté - not just experience but can also mean experiment. By contrast, expérimenté means experienced. The verb to experience is most commonly translated by connaître or, for an emotion, éprouver.
Resource provided by the website
Copyright The Manchester Metropolitan University 2004. All rights reserved. C Dawson
page 3
exploiter - generally used with the more neutral sense of to run, operate rather than the pejorative to exploit: exploiter un réseau - to operate a network. The noun un exploitant is commonly translated as operator, but can be more specific according to the context, e.g. un exploitant agricole - a farmer.
faculté (f) - generally means university rather than faculty. Often shortened to fac: elle est en fac - she's at university.
faillir - not to fail (= échouer, rater) but to nearly to something: J'ai failli tomber - I nearly fell over.
figure (f) - not figure (= un personnage in the sense of person, un chiffre in the sense of number and la ligne in the sense of body shape) but face.
forfait (m) - not a forfeit in a game (= un gage) but something paid at a fixed rate, especially a package holiday.
formulaire (m) - not a formula (= une formule) but a form, as in remplir un formulaire - to fill in a form.
global - not so much global as total or overall, as in croissance globale - overall growth.
grappe (f) - not grape (= une raisin) but a bunch of grapes.
gratuité (f) - not a gratuity (= un pourboire) but the noun from gratuit meaning free or gratuitous. Thus la gratuité de l'enseignement means free education.
grief (m) - not grief (= la douleur, le chagrin) but a grievance.
humeur (m) - not humour (= humour) but mood or temperament.
huile (f) - oil that is edible and not that which can be burned (= la pétrole).
ignorer - although can mean to ignore, most comonly means not to know e.g. J'ignore les détails - I don't know the details.
impliquer - not just to implicate but also more neutrally to involve : se sentir impliqué - to feel involved.
important - most commonly important, but in a numerical context can mean significant or considerable: un nombre important de candidats - a considerable number of candidates; une hausse importante - a significant increase.
impression (une) - not only impression but also printing. Lancer une impression - to launch a print-out.nalement) but possible / possibly.
exercice (m) - not just exercise but in a business context can also mean financial year.
expérience (f) / expérimenté - not just experience but can also mean experiment. By contrast, expérimenté means experienced. The verb to experience is most commonly translated by connaître or, for an emotion, éprouver., but any kind of professional driver e.g. un chauffeur de taxi - a taxi driver.
inciter - usually means to encourage / urge rather than to incite. Le journal a incité le gouvernement d'investir dans l'education - The paper encouraged the government to invest more in education.
ingénieur (m) - broader meaning than engineer, including most technical and commercial domains.
inhabitable - not inhabitable but uninhabitable.
injure (f) - not an injury (= une blessure) but an insult.
intéressant - in the context of money can mean attractive: Il le vend à un prix intéressant - He's selling it at an attractive price.
interroger - broader meaning than to interrogate, including to question or to put questions to: Les journalistes ont interrogé le président sur l'Europe - The journalists questioned the President on Europe.
intervention (f) - not only intervention but also a surgical operation and a speech or lecture.
inutile - not just useless, but also unnecessary: Inutile de dire qu'il n'y est pas rentré - Needless to say, he didn't go back.
isolation (f) - not isolation (= isolement) but insulation.
issue (m) - not an issue (= question, dossier) but an exit, solution or outcome.
joindre - not to join in the sense of an organization (= devenir member de, adhérer à, s'inscrire à or entrer) , but to get hold of (someone), to enclose or to attach together.
large - not large (= grand) but wide.
lecture (f) - not a lecture in the academic sense (= une conférence if a public talk, un cours magistral if part of a series of academic lectures) but the act of reading.
libéralisme (m) - just as commonly refers to economic liberalism (i.e. right-of-centre) as to social liberalism (i.e. left-of-centre).
librarie (f) - not a library (= une bibliothèque) but a bookshop.
licence (m) - not a licence (= un permis) but a three-year bachelor's degree.
local (m) - when used as a noun means premises.

location (m) - not location (= emplacement if refering to site or localisation if refering to act of locating).
lunatique - not mad but moody, changeable.
matériel (m) - not material (= du tissu, de l'étoffe - f - for making clothes etc., or la matière for stories etc.) but equipment. In a computer context matériel means hardware, the opposite of le logiciel (= software).
militant (m) - not a militant (= un agitateur) but an activist.
mobile (m) - when used as a noun means motive: le mobile du crime - the motive for the crime.
moteur (m) - not just a motor but also a car engine.
muter, mutation (f) - not just mutate, mutation in the biological sense but more commonly transfer : être muté à une filiale - to be transferred to a subsidiary.
nouvelle (f) - in the literary sense not novel but short story.
occasion (f) - not just an occasion but also an opportunity.
offre (f) / offrir - not just an offer but also supply in the commercial sense: l'offre et la demande - supply and demand. Offrir means not only to offer but also to buy : Je te l'offre - I'll buy it for you.
onéreux - not onerous (= lourd) but expensive.
parc (m) - not just park but also in a commercial sense total number of or stock.
part (f) - not a part (= une partie in general or un rôle in a play) but a share: Une part de marché - a market share.
passer - in the expression passer un examen means to take an exam, not to pass an exam (= réussir un examen).
pension (f) - not just pension but also boarding house, boarding school and board in general: pension complète - full board.
percevoir - not just perceive but also to receive money: percevoir des droits d'auteur - to recieve royalties. Un percepteur is a tax inspecteur.
pétrole (m) - not petrol (= de l'essence) but oil that can be made into fuel etc. L'huile is edible oil.
photographe (m) - not photograph (= une phphrase (f) - not a phrase (= une expression, une locution) but a sentence.
plan (m) - not plan (= un projet, dessein) but a map of a town, transport system etc.
politique (m) - not just politics but also a policy: la politique étrangère - foreign policy.
préjudice (m) - not préjudice (= des préjugés) but harm. Porter préjudice à - To cause harm to.
président (m) - often translated by chairman / chairwoman rather than president: Le président d'une entreprise - the chairman of a company.
prétendre - not to pretend (= faire comme si / faire semblant de faire) but to claim: Il prétend tout ignorer - He pretends not to know anything.
procès (m) - not a process (= un processus) but a trial.
prune (f) - not a prune (= un pruneau) but a plum.
raisin (m) - not a raisin (= un raisin sec) but a grape.
réaliser - the use of this verb to mean to realise in the sense of to become aware of is not fully accepted. It is preferable to use se rendre compte de qch.
reporter - not to report (= signaler, faire le compte rendu de) but to postpone.
rude - not rude (= impoli) but rough.
sensible - not sensible (= raisonnable, sensé) but sensitive.
sérieux - can mean reliable or conscientious as well as serious: C'est une compagnie très sérieuse - It's a very reliable company.
service (m) - in addition to service can also mean favour (as in Tu peux me rendre un service? - Can you do me a favour?) and department (as in le service du personnel - personnel department).
sinistre (m) - when used as a noun means variously a disaster, an accident or damage.
société (f) / social - in a commercial sense not a society (= une association) but a company.
sommaire (m) - not a summary (= un résumé) but a table of contents.otographie) but a photographer
supporter - only means to support in the sense of to bear the weight of or to follow a sports team. Otherwise means to put up with. To support in the sense of to provide moral backing for is generally translated by soutenir.
susceptible - not susceptible (= sensible) but touchy. Also the expression être susceptible à - to be likely to.
sympathique - not sympathique (= compatissant) but friendly, pleasant.
terrible - not only terrible but in some contexts the opposite i.e. great : Il n'est pas terrible ce film - It's not great this film.
tissu (m) - not a tissue (= un kleenex) but material, fabric.
user - not to use (= utiliser) but to wear out.
veste (f) - not a vest (= un maillot) but a jacket.

Resource provided by the website
Copyright The Manchester Metropolitan University 2004.



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