10 More False Friends in English and Italian

Don’t let false friends catch you out! We are back with 10 more of those words that you think “oh I know it, it’s similar in Italian” but actually it means something completely, or quite, different. Take a look at these ones to make sure you don’t use them when you shouldn’t!

Accidente- Accident

The Italian word accidente translated to English is actually a coincidence, misfortune or sickness. Instead the English accident is an unpleasant event that happens unexpectedly causing injury or damage. (incidente, infortunio)

Confrontare- Confront

This seems like a straightforward translation… oh wait, false friend! The Italian verb confrontare in English means to compare two things. However the English verb confront means to deal with a difficult situation or problem. (affrontare)

Conveniente- Convenient

The Italian adjective conveniente translated to English means good value and it is worth the money it costs or something that is suitable and appropriate. Instead the English adjective convenient means something is useful, quick and easy to do. (comodo)

Educazione- Education

In Italian the word educazione refers to your upbringing and good manners that usually your parents gave you whereas the English education refers specifically to your schooling and university, the process of teaching, training and learning. (istruzione/ insegnamento)

Fattoria- Factory

This is a difficult one for English speaking learners of Italian! The Italian noun fattoria simply refers to a farm in English. Instead the English factory is the building where items are made, usually by a lot of workers or machinery! (fabbrica)

Eventualmente- Eventually

This looks like an obvious translation but actually it’s not at all! The Italian adverb eventualmente means possibly, potentially, or if need be. However the English eventually used to mean the end of a period of time or series of events. (finalmente/ prima o poi)

Parenti- Parents

Another one that is often very hard to remember and often mistaken. The Italian parenti translates to English as relatives, or the people outside of your immediate family, like your aunts, uncles, cousins etc. However the English word parents literally just means your mother and father. (genitori)

Libreria- Library

The Italian libreria is known in English as a bookshop. Instead in English a library is the place you can borrow books. (biblioteca)

Stampa- Stamp

In Italian stampa means the entire media, or the printing press. A stamp in English is the little square piece of paper that you pay for and then stick in the corner of letters. In the UK it has a picture of the queen’s head on it! (francobollo)

Stipendio- Stipend

There is only a slight distinction here but an important one! The Italian stipendio refers to your salary or monthly wage from your employer. However in English a stipend is usually a small extra payment that only covers living expenses. (stipendio)

 

Do you know any more false friends? Write them in the comments below!

10 False Friends in English and Italian

Every language learner needs to watch out for false friends. These are words that sound very similar in both languages but in fact mean completely different things! Take a look at the ten most common and important ones for English and Italian.

1. Annoiare and Annoy

The translation for the verb annoiare in English is actually to bore which means to make someone feel bored. Annoy however means to make someone angry!

2. Pretendere and Pretend

Pretendere in Italian translates into English as to expect, which means to want and hope something, or in other cases to predict something will happen. However to pretend in English means to behave in a certain way to make others believe something that is not true.

3. Grosso and Gross

Many people know that the adjective grosso in Italian actually means large or big in English, while the American word gross definitely means something that is disgusting or unpleasant.

4. Morbido and Morbid

The translation for morbido in English is actually soft, something that sounds very strange to English speakers because morbid means something sad, unpleasant and usually associated with death.

5. Camera and Camera

Here we have the exact same word with completely different meanings. The word camera in Italian translates as room or bedroom whereas the English camera is the device for taking photographs!

6. Argomento and Argument

In Italian the word argomento means a subject, theme or topic, something quite different to the English argument, which means an angry disagreement, or a set of reasons to demonstrate a point of view.

7. Fabbrica and Fabric

There is a slight tenuous connection here but it’s still a bit of a stretch. Fabbrica in Italian means a factory in English, while fabric in English is the soft material that you use to make clothes and other things. Many factories make fabric, but they still mean completely different things!

8. Magazzino and Magazine

Magazzino in Italian translates in English as a warehouse, the large place you store manufactured goods, whereas a magazine in English is a monthly or weekly paper cover book containing articles and photographs!

9. Rumore and Rumour

Rumore in Italian is the noise your neighbour next door will not stop making while an English rumour is actually a story about someone or something that no one knows if it’s true or not!

10. Attualmente and Actually

This looks like a perfect translation for an adverb but then you realise that attualemente really means currently or at this moment, whereas actually is used to emphasise a fact, or used to correct someone!

 

Do you know any more false friends? Write in the comments below!

A Brit in Italy: Culture Shock

[Italiano qui]

It’s fairly obvious that there are many differences between England and Italy, but some of them definitely surprised me more than others. I have been living in Italy for the past year and a half – initially in Abruzzo and now here in Milan – so now I am well used to life here, but back in 2016 I was absolutely not!

Prices

I think I spent the first two weeks of my life in Italy running around supermarkets and restaurants exclaiming ‘look at how cheap this pasta is!’ ‘have you seen the price of this wine?!’. Food and drink in the UK are extremely expensive compared to Italy – the cheapest bottle of wine in a supermarket usually costs around £7 (€8.35) and is often very acidic and of poor quality. We also primarily use screw-caps instead of corks, which is far less elegant in my opinion. Additionally, if you want a coffee in England you pay around £4 for a small Starbucks – whereas the best coffee in the world is here for only €1!

Noise

For a lot of people, one of the first things we think about when someone mentions ‘Italy’ is the noise. When visiting Naples, for example, I was overwhelmed with the amount of car horns and shouting – not to mention the fact that I was almost run over several times! It took me some time to get used to the shouting and general noise in public, but now when I go back to England the buses and trains are eerily quiet. If I ever want a quiet hour to myself in Milan, I usually go to the nearest library or a nice small café.

Greetings

Saying hello and goodbye in Italy is an event in itself. I think I’ve discovered the secret as to why Italians are always late – because every time you leave somewhere it takes an extra half an hour just to say goodbye! When leaving an event or party in England, we say goodbye once to everyone at the same time and leave pretty swiftly. Here, however, there’s a flurry of hugs and kisses, and the word ‘ciao’ repeated a hundred times over. I think people considered me quite rude for the first month of my time here, as I wasn’t quite used to the Italian way, but now I make sure I don’t leave without saying goodbye to every single person!

Traditions/Holidays

One of my favourite differences between Italy and the UK is that Italy has so many public holidays! It seems like every month there is something new to celebrate, and the mood of the country reflects that. Unfortunately, in the UK Carnival does not exist, but we do have pancake day instead! Apart from the fantastic day or two off work, one of the best things about these holidays (Easter, Carnival, Christmas etc.) is the food that comes with them, which brings me to my next point…

Food

It would be impossible to talk about Italian culture without at least mentioning the food! I think the UK is pretty well-known for its terrible cuisine (fish & chips for example), so one of the first things I noticed when I moved here was not just the new dishes, but the quality of the food itself. Everything is so fresh and so well-prepared; even a simple pasta dish with 3 ingredients tastes incredible! Sometimes I miss the more international dishes we have in the UK, like Indian curry or Mexican burritos, but they are relatively easy to find here in Milan and I wouldn’t give up Italian food for anything.

Etiquette

I wouldn’t be British if I didn’t mention this! Coming from England, it was a big shock to me that people here do not queue – and if they do then someone always ends up cutting the line anyway. Another big surprise was that cars tend not to stop at the zebra crossing (crosswalk). In England this is illegal, and we take it very seriously, but nobody here seems to care! The category of etiquette also applies to the issue of personal space. It took me months and months to get used to people standing so close to me when in line at the supermarket or stood on the metro, and I’m still terrified when people walk straight towards me on the street, but they always move at the last second! Finally, an honourable mention goes to customer service. This definitely exists in Italy, but as there is no tipping culture, it sometimes tends to slip; it’s definitely not a priority here!

Appearances

Many people in the UK tend to leave the house looking like they just woke up (this includes going out with wet hair!), but one of the most impressive things to me about Italian culture is that everyone always looks extremely presentable and put-together. Even at 8am on the metro, there isn’t a hair out of place and you’ll not find one person with dirty shoes. Cleanliness is a huge priority for Italian people; this includes both personal hygiene and tidiness in general. Long gone are the days of standing on a crowded, sweaty London tube – everyone here smells great!

I wouldn’t say that either way of life is better or worse than the other, just that there are many differences and many things to get used to when moving to a different country. Although the next time I go back to the UK, I’ll make sure to bring some pasta, coffee, and wine with me!