10 ultimate false friends in French and English

False friends – Are they good or bad? At this point, we’d accept any friend. All the same, you should watch out for these guys – they’re worse than Brutus, Judas and Benedict Arnold combined.

The following terms sound similar in English and French, but have wildly different meanings. You have been warned.

1. Chair vs. Chair

A chair = une chaise // La chair = flesh

One is a thing to sit on, the other sits on your bones. Actually, you can probably sit on both depending on what you’re into.

2. Bless vs. Blesser

To bless = bénir, louer  // Blesser = to hurt, to harm

One means to sanctify or approve, the other can be hurtful. Both can result from a particularly large sneeze.

3. Chat vs. Chat

A chat = une conversation, un tchat // Un chat = a cat

One is in an informal conversation by computer or in person, the other is a feline death machine. Both can end in scratches and/or heavy petting.

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4. Basket vs. Baskets

A basket = un panier, une corbeille  // Des baskets = sneakers (US), trainers (UK)

One is a good place for your socks, the other is a good place for your feet.

5. Pain vs. Pain

Le pain = bread // Pain = la douleur

One is the lifeblood of the French economy, the other may result in your lifeblood spilling. Both can be major turn-ons.

6. Flesh vs. Flèche

Flesh = la chair // Une flèche = an arrow

One is fine dining for cannibals, the other is an archer’s best friend.

7. Pub vs. Pub

A pub (public house) = un pub, un bar // La pub = commercials, advertising, an advert

One is a veritable second home for the British, the other pervades our every move. Both make us want to drink more.

8. Slip vs. Slip

To slip = glisser, une chute // Un slip = underwear, panties, briefs

One might mean losing your balance, the other covers up your shame. Both can be embarrassing and/or Freudian.

9. Sale vs. Sale

A sale = les soldes, une promotion  // Sale = dirty

One fires up our endorphins and justifies our wild spending, while the other is a dirty word in some circles.

10. Coin vs. Coin

A coin = une pièce de monnaie // Un coin = a corner

One is a small metallic piece of money, the other is the place where walls and dunces meet.

If you never want to make these mistakes again, try our online English course Gymglish today.

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