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An A to Z of French Faux Amis

Aug 11, 2016

One of the great things about the French is that lots of words have the same roots, meaning that there are many likenesses between the languages e.g. accident, intelligence, situation.

That said, language learners must apply an amount of caution as there are examples of faux amis or false friends, which are words in a foreign language which resemble words in one’s own language but have a different meaning.

We’ve popped together our A to Z (or rather A to V) of the most common faux amis to ensure your language learners don’t get themselves into any sticky situations.

French word

English meaning

English resemblance

French translation

actuel current, present actual réelexact
agenda diary agenda ordre du jour (de réunion)
allure pace, speed; appearance; style allure attraitcharme
avertissement warning advertisement publicité
balance scales (for weighing) balance équilibre
bribes fragments bribes pots-de-vin
car coach car voiture
cave cellar cave grotte
chair flesh chair chaisefauteuilsiège
chance luck chance hasard
coin corner coin pièce (de monnaie)
déception disappointment deception tromperieduperie
demander to ask for demand exiger
éventuellement possibly, if necessary eventually finalement
fabrique factory fabric tissu
formidable great, terrific, fantastic formidable redoutable; impressionnant
gentil kind, nice, likeable gentle doux
journée day journey voyage
lecture reading (matter) lecture cours magistral
librairie bookshop library bibliothèque
monnaie change (coins) money argent
patron boss patron client
procès trial process processus
prune plum prune pruneau
prétendre to claim pretend faire semblant
quitter to leave quit arrêtercesser
raisin grape raisin raisin sec
rester to stay rest se reposer
sensible sensitive sensible sensible = raisonnable
stage (training) course stage stade; (Theatscène
sympathique nice, pleasant sympathetic compatissantcompréhensif
tissu fabric, material tissue mouchoir en papier
veste jacket, coat US vest maillot de corps

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