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False Cognates from French to English

Even though French and English are two languages that are very different since they are not part of the same language family, it is still possible to find hundreds of words that are the same, either spelling or pronunciation wise. Those words are called cognates. Some of them are true cognates, meaning that they are used in the same way in both languages, while others are false cognates, therefore, they have different meanings in French and in English.  

Here are a few common examples to be aware of:

  • Actuellement and Actually: Actuellement would translate as currently. Actually is used to state a fact.
  • Blesser and Bless: In English, blesser would be hurt. Bless is a verb that means to make holy or sacred.
  • Chance and Chance: Luck is the right word for chance, while chance is employed to talk about a probability, a risk, or an opportunity.
  • Ancien and Ancient: Ancien translates as old. Ancient refers to the very distant past.
  • Journée and Journey: The correct translation of journée is day. A journey is a traveling from one place to another.

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