Seeing as Swedish and English come from the same family of languages: Germanic! I thought it would be a good idea to showcase ten words that look English but have a completely different meaning in Swedish
This word looks surprisingly similar to the English word Answer doesn’t it? However, Ansvar actually means responsibility in Swedish. Remove the “an” and you will have the word you are looking for which is Svar.
Taking care of your barn is an important responsibility however, it’s not going to be exclusively on a farm though. Barn actually means child in Swedish. So if you’re looking for a barn, you would say Ladugård instead.
Okay, this isn’t just a false friend with just Swedish alone but, you probably won’t find them in the kitchen unless they’re taking a break. Chef means Boss in Swedish. What you are looking for is the Kock!
You might think this word derives from English but you would be daft to believe that it carries the same meaning. Derivera actually means to differentiate in Swedish. You should use härleda instead.
Don’t expect to hear wedding bells in the near future or about someone being busy because they haven’t committed to anything yet. If you’re engaged to be married you would be förlovad and if you’re busy you’re upptagen.
Whether or not you can handle eating any more food is relevant when you’re drunk. You would say mätt instead!
Excuse me, why is their glass in my ice cream? Okay this one is a little unfair because it’s matter of removing an “s” to get your meaning across. Glas with one S means glass and with two means ice cream. Remember that!
One could think someone is cross when they see this familiar word but it’s actually more dangerous than you can imagine. As Krossa means break or smash in Swedish. You would say either Arg, korsa or even lack (if you want to use slang. This word originates from the Skånska dialect but is used throughout most of Sweden now).
While this might sound very close to the English word goodies, it only refers to one thing: Candy/Sweets! We don’t actually have an exact word for goodies in Swedish but you can refer to them as kul saker (“cool things”) if you want.
Aren’t you glad the semester is over? Now we can go on holiday/vacation and not have to worry about any more course work! In Swedish, a semester refers to holiday/vacation you take. Which is quite the opposite of what semester means in English! If you want to refer to the English word semester, you would use the word Termin instead.
Don’t expect the lead singer of a famous band to show off their vocals to you because they still need to work on pronouncing their vowels!
If you would like some help improving your Swedish, feel free to sign up for a session with me on italki! The latest italki Language Challenge is about to begin soon, so why not take your Swedish to the next level?
What do you think about false friends? Do they make learning a language more challenging? Did it lead to any embarrassing scenarios? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!