48 German Cognates with English Translations (Examples Provided)

Learning German is like exploring a familiar landscape with hidden surprises.

You might spot a word that looks just like an English one, but beware—it could be a false friend! These false cognates can lead you astray, making you think “Gift” means a present when it actually means “poison.” These tricky words can cause some funny mix-ups and interesting challenges.

Lingoni German made a lesson on the most common German-English cognates:

In this post, we’ll explain what German cognates are , and also share some common false cognates in German. This way, you’ll avoid the pitfalls and enjoy the adventure of language learning even more.

1. Perfect German cognates

Perfect cognates are words that look and sound exactly the same in German and English.

These words make learning German much easier because you already know them!

A hand-drawn equal symbol with slightly rough lines, created using a pencil on a white background. German cognates.

Let’s say, “Bus” is “bus” and “Hotel” is “hotel”.

These words are like little helpers that show you how similar German and English can be.

If you use perfect cognates, you can quickly build your German vocabulary and feel more confident speaking!

GermanEnglish
ApfelApple
ButterButter
ComputerComputer
HotelHotel
KaffeeCoffee
MusikMusic
RadioRadio
RestaurantRestaurant
TaxiTaxi
TelefonTelephone
TomateTomato
UniversitätUniversity
WindWind
ZirkusCircus

A real-life example of perfect German cognates could look like this:

Anna: Hallo, Max. Wie geht’s? (Hello, Max. How are you?)
Max: Hallo, Anna. Mir geht’s gut, danke. Und dir? (Hi, Anna. I’m fine, thanks. And you?)
Anna: Mir geht’s gut. Was denkst du über das neue Restaurant im Park? (I’m good. What do you think about the new restaurant in the park?)
Max: Ich würde dich gerne einladen. Sie sagen, sie haben die beste Schokolade. (I’d like to invite you. They say they have the best chocolate.)
Anna: Das klingt perfekt! Wir sehen uns am Samstag. (That sounds perfect! See you on Saturday.)
Max: Bis dann. Tschüss. (See you. Goodbye.)

2. Near-perfect German cognates

Near-perfect cognates are words that look and sound almost the same in German and English.

They might have small differences, but they are still easy to recognize.

These words are great for learning because they help you connect what you already know in English to new German words.

GermanEnglish
Autocar
Doktordoctor
E-Mailemail
Fotophoto
Gitarreguitar
Kameracamera
Klimaclimate
Lampelamp
Nummernumber
Telefontelephone
Universitätuniversity
Wasserwater
Zentrumcenter
Zoozoo

In the following German conversation, you can see perfect and near-perfect cognates in German, look out!

Anna: Hallo, Tom! Hast du das neue Auto gesehen? (Hello, Tom! Have you seen the new car?)
Tom: Ja, es steht vor der Bank. (Yes, it’s parked in front of the bank.)
Anna: Sollen wir mit dem Bus zum Museum fahren? (Shall we take the bus to the museum?)
Tom: Das ist eine gute Idee. Ich habe mein Telefon hier. (That’s a good idea. I have my phone here.)
Anna: Möchtest du nach dem Museum in ein Restaurant gehen? (Do you want to go to a restaurant after the museum?)
Tom: Klar, danach können wir im Park spazieren gehen. (Sure, after that we can take a walk in the park.)

3. False cognates in German

In contrast to perfect and near-perfect German cognates, false cognates are tricky words that look similar in German and English but have completely different meanings.

An equal sign drawn with a pencil, featuring visible texture and roughness, on a plain white background. German cognates.

They can be confusing because they seem familiar, but they actually mean something else.

Gift” in German means “poison,” not a present. Another example is “bekommen,” which means “to receive,” not “to become.”

These words test your language skills!

Learning about false cognates helps you avoid misunderstandings. It’s okay to make mistakes — each one is another step towards mastering the language!

If you want to avoid these mistakes, you can sign up for the 7-in-7 challenge now!

GermanEnglishNotes
AktuellActualAktuell” means “current” or “present.”
BaldBaldBald” means “soon.”
BravBraveBrav” means “well-behaved.”
ChefChefChef” means “boss.”
FastFastFast” means “almost.”
GiftGiftGift” means “poison.”
KritikCriticKritik” means “criticism.”
LektionLectureLektion” means “lesson.”
LustLustLust” means “desire” or “pleasure.”
RatRatRat” means “advice” or “council.”
SensibleSensibleSensible” means “sensitive.”
SympathischSympatheticSympathisch” means “likable” or “agreeable.”
TollTollToll” means “great” or “fantastic.”
BillionBillionBillion” means “trillion” in English.
WerbenTo VerbWerben” means “to advertise.”
BekommenBecomeBekommen” means “to receive.”
EventuellEventuallyEventuell” means “possibly.”
FabrikFabricFabrik” means “factory.”
BekanntBeckonedBekannt” means “known” or “famous.”
KarriereCarrierKarriere” means “career.”

The next German sentences contain false cognates:

Anna: Hallo, Max. Ich habe einen neuen Chef. Er ist wirklich sympathisch. (Hello, Max. I have a new boss. He is really likable.)
Max: Das klingt toll! Hast du die neue Kritik gelesen? Sie ist sehr aktuell. (That sounds great! Have you read the new critique? It is very current.)
Anna: Ja, habe ich. Nach der Arbeit habe ich eine Pause im Laden gemacht. (Yes, I have. After work, I took a break in the shop.)
Max: Ich habe ein neues Handy gekauft. Es hat viele nützliche Mittel. (I bought a new cell phone. It has many useful features.)
Anna: Super! Gehst du bald in den Urlaub? (Great! Are you going on vacation soon?)
Max: Ja, ich werde bald zelten gehen. (Yes, I will go camping soon.)

4. Practice German cognates with our Full Practice Worksheet

Fill in the blanks with the correct German cognates!

If you want to learn more with us, you just have to click the button below!

5. Learn more German language cognates in context with Conversation Based Chunking

Learning German can be fun and easy with cognates!

In this blog post, we explained what are cognates, and how they work in relation with German and English.

They help you understand and remember new words quickly. For example, “Auto” means “car” and “Haus” means “house”.

A great way to learn these words is with Conversation Based Chunking. This method uses small pieces of conversations to help you practice. Imagine you are talking with a friend.

You say, “I see a big Haus.” Your friend understands because “Haus” sounds like “house”.

With Conversation Based Chunking, you learn by speaking and listening.

You use simple phrases and real conversations. This makes learning natural, just like when you learned your first language.

Each cognate is a piece that helps you see the whole picture.

Keep practicing, and soon you will know many German words without even thinking about it.

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