top of page

32 English French false cognates to be aware of

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Learning English French cognates could be a great language learning strategy to quickly upscale your vocabulary. However, you should know that not all of them are true. Les faux amis, literally translated as false friends or fake friends, can be misleading, even deceptive, and you have to watch out for them. Don't take granted words like blesser, bras, sale, or préservatif!

1. What are false cognates or les faux-amis?

Les faux-amis are words that look alike in French and English but convey different meanings. They can be deceptive and if you want to avoid embarrassing situations, it's then important for you to identify them.

By learning them, you will not fall into the mistake of taking a preservative as un préservatif (a condom), like in Emily in Paris TV series (season 1). You will not also be talking about sales when French people are referring to something dirty (sale).


Before jumping into the next topic, I have great news for you. Lingoda, one of my favorite language learning platforms, is currently offering from September 12th to October 3rd 2022, 25% discount on your monthly subscriptions. Lingoda offers live online classes, with a specific immersive approach that makes you speak French for real. You can learn French, English, German and Spanish. Classes start at 50$ per month for 4 classes of 1 hour each. For those who don't know Lingoda, you can read their review here. And if you are considering joining their classes, use the code KICKSTART25 with our link.

2. Common English French false cognates list

Here is a list of 32 common English French fake friends. In the table below, you have the English word with its translation in French (first column) and the French fake cognate with its meaning in English (2nd column).

Once you will finish learning them, scroll down to take our test and check your knowledge.

English word

French word


Actually = en fait

Actuellement = now, at present


An affair = une liaison, une aventure

Une affaire = a business, a deal, a matter


To assist = aider

Assister = to attend


To attend = assister à

Attendre = to wait


To bless = bénir

Blesser = to injure, to hurt


A bra = un soutien-gorge

Un bras = an arm


A chair = une chaise

La chair = flesh


A character = un personnage

Le caractère = personality, nature


A class = un cours

Une classe = a classroom


A coin = une pièce

Un coin = a corner


Comprehensive = complet, exhaustif

Compréhensif (ve) = understanding


To demand = exiger

Demander = to ask


To be engaged = être fiancé (e)

Être engagé (e) = To be committed


An evidence = une preuve

Une évidence = an obviouness


A figure = un chiffre

La figure : face


A grave = une tombe

Grave = serious


A habit = une habitude

Un habit = a cloth


To injure = blesser

Injurier = to insult


A journey = un voyage

Une journée = a day, day time


A lecture = une conférence

La lecture = reading


Library = la bibliothèque

La librairie = book store/shop


Location = un lieu, un endroit, une position géographique

La location = the rent, rental


Main = principal

La main = hand


A medicine = un médicament

La médecine = medical science


Money = l'argent

La monnaie = change, currency


Pain = la douleur

Le pain = bread


A party = une fête, une soirée

Une partie = a part, a section


To pass an exam: réussir un examen

Passer un examen = to take an exam


To pretend = faire semblant

Prétendre = to claim, to say


A preservative = un conservateur

Un préservatif = a condom


To rest = se reposer

Rester = to stay, to remain


Sale = les soldes, une vente

Sale = dirty

3. Quiz: How much do you know about English and French fake friends?

Click on START to take the test and discover how much you know about French English false fiends. Your answers will be corrected after each exercise. Happy learning.


bottom of page