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German-English Cognates Posted by on Oct 25, 2017 in Language, Uncategorized

Guten Tag! In a recent post, Six Reasons To Learn German, I mentioned that German and English are from the same language family – the Indo-European family – which means both languages have taken words from Latin, Greek and French. Because of this, there are numerous cognates (words sharing a common source) that look and sound similar in both languages. This may be useful to remember on those days when German seems like the hardest language in the world to learn; these familiar words work as ‘helpers’ that help you understand a text, for instance, when you’ve no clue what the text is about! So what I’ve done is collected a load of German cognates to share with you here. Some are ‘perfect cognates’ (exactly the same) while others are ‘near cognates’ (similar).

German                                                      English

die Adresse                                                  address

der Arm                                                        arm

der Gott                                                        God

das Haar/die Haare                                    hair

haben                                                            to have (ich habe = I have)

halb                                                                half

die Hand                                                       hand

das Haus                                                       house

hungrig                                                         hungry

ich                                                                  I

der Kaffee                                                     coffee

die Kamera                                                   camera

die Klinik                                                      clinic

lang                                                                long

der Mann                                                      man

der Moment                                                 moment

die Mutter                                                    mother

das Papier                                                    paper

die Pause                                                      breaktime/pause

perfekt                                                          perfect

die Polizei                                                    police

das Restaurant                                           restaurant

das Schiff                                                     ship

der Schuh/die Schuhe                               shoe/shoes

der Supermarkt                                          supermarket

der Tiger                                                       tiger

die Universität                                           university

der Vater                                                      father

das Wasser                                                  water

das Wetter                                                   weather

der Wind                                                      wind

wild                                                               wild

das Wort                                                      word

Kaffeepause

German coffee shop named ‘Kaffeepause’. You could probably guess what this place is without knowing any German at all. Photo by kefraya on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Other cognates include all of the months of the year (Januar, Februar, März, April, Mai, Juni, Juli, August, September, Oktober, November, Dezember), some of the days of the week (Montag, Freitag, Sonntag), the planets & outer space (click here for the blog post), and some of the colours (braun, blau, grün, orange).

One thing to note, however, is that German contains many ‘false friends’ – words which you recognise as English, but which have a completely different meaning in German. One example is the word bald, which in English means to have no hair, but in German means soon. The best thing to do is to get to know these false friends so you don’t fall into their trap! Read more on them here, here and here.

Can you think of any more German/English cognates?

I hope your day is fantastisch! Bis bald.

Constanze

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About the Author:Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze. I'm half English and half German. I write here because I'm passionate about my languages and my roots. I also work as a translator & group fitness instructor.


Comments:

  1. Tom Dawkes:

    Always a pleasure to read this and the other language blogs … but as ever there are faux amis. Contrast ‘der Arm ‘ — “of course, it means ‘arm'” with ‘ich bin arm’, meaning’I am poor’

  2. Allan Mahnke:

    Your use of ‘bald’ made me smile remembering a childhood incident. While helping her young son (me) to learn new German vocabulary, my mother warned: Soon you will be ‘bald.’

  3. Henry Patterson:

    You should do a blog on the “false friends” you mention here. Enjoying your posts by the way! Thanks.

    • Constanze:

      @Henry Patterson Hey Henry, I linked to three posts about false friends – they’re at the end of the post. Glad you enjoy the blog!

  4. Kevin Kuehlwein:

    Looks like some English crept in here.
    Pretty sure that the German is “Adresse,” not “Addresse.”

    I remember how weird-looking it was when I first encountered it.