Swedish False Friends Posted by Marcus Cederström on Aug 29, 2014 in Swedish Language, Vocabulary
A while ago, we talked about some of those words in Swedish that are the same in English in a creatively titled post English Words in Swedish. They’re the ones that make learning a language just a little bit easier. Of course, learning a language is always a challenge, no matter how many cognates there are because you also have false cognates. False friends if you will. We’ve posted a short piece titled Beware False Friends from a while ago.
Sometimes those false friends are spelled exactly the same as a word you know in English. Other times, the word might be close, so close, that you think you can guess it. You might be right. Or you might not be. So beware. Here are 20 false friends that you should learn, just to avoid any confusion:
Svenska = Engelska
- bad (ett) = bath
- barn (ett) = child
- bra = good
- dog = died
- fart (en) = speed
- full = drunk
- gem (ett) = paper clip
- genus (ett) = gender
- grind (en) = gate
- gymnasium (ett) = high school
- kind (en) = cheek
- kiss (ett) = pee
- offer (ett) = victim or sacrifice
- personal (en) = staff/personnel
- pest (en) = plague
- semester (en) = vacation
- slut (ett) = end/finished
- smoking (en) = tuxedo
- stark = strong
- trams = nonsense
Of course, you can see the potential for problems here. If you’ve had enough to eat at dinner, don’t say you’re full. Unless you’ve also had too much to drink. With school starting, don’t say you’re dreading the start of the new semester. Unless you’re going on a horrible vacation. If you ask for a gem, don’t be surprised when someone gives you a paper clip. I think you understand how this works.
And those are just the ones that are spelled the same. There are plenty of others, like val. Kind of looks like whale. It does mean whale. Kind of. If it is EN val, it is a whale. If it is ETT val, it is an election. So right now in Sweden, there is ETT val coming up. Not EN val. We’ll be voting in elections, not whales.
Good luck and be sure to write more of your false friends in the comments below.
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.