I do not think it means what you think it means

a collection by Kristina Davidson

“Faux amis” are fake friends (or cognates to be grammatically correct). These are words that look the same but have different meanings in the two languages.

Here are some examples:

“Coin” does not mean coin in English (that’s une pièce de monnaie) but corner, as in:

“au coin de la rue” (on the corner of the street)

“aller au coin” (to go and stand in the corner … memories of school)

“les coins et les recoins” (nooks and crannies)


“Pain” does not mean pain in English (that’s une douleur) but bread or loaf, as in:

“un pain rond” (round loaf)

“notre pain quotidien” (our daily bread)

“se vendre comme des petits pains” (to sell like hot cakes)


“Lecture” does not mean a lecture in English (that’s une conférence) but reading, as in:

“la lecture à voix haute” (reading aloud)

“faire la lecture à quelqu’un” (to read to somebody)

“organiser des lectures d’oeuvres théâtrales/de poésies (to organise play/poetry readings)


“Librarie” does not mean library in English (that’s une bibliotèque) but bookshop or bookstore, as in:

“une librarie de livres anciens” (antiquarian bookshop)

“en librairie” (in bookshops)

“dans toutes les librairies dès lundi” (available in all bookshops from Monday


“Conducteur” does not mean a conductor (of an orchestra or in a bus) in English (that’s le chef d’orchestre or le contrôleur) but driver, as in:

“être bon/mauvais conducteur” (to be a good.bad driver).

However, “conducteur” and “conductor” mean the same thing in science, as in to be a  good/bad conductor of electricity/heat (“être un bon/mauvais conducteur d’éléctricité/de chaleur)

Kristina Davidson

About Kristina Davidson

Kristina Davidson (@KrisyDavidson) describes herself as a ‘slash and cut’ editor – she likes nothing better than to translate gobbledygook into a succinct, clear communication that is visually pleasing. She believes that creative writing is best reserved for novels, not business writing. Ten years of living in France made her a coffee snob and taught her how to argue. Her love of the French language is equalled only by her love of good food.


Leave a Reply