FALSE FRIENDS between Italian and English, French and Spanish

In today’s video we will talk about those friends that nobody wants to meet while learning a foreign language: FALSE FRIENDS! Very bad people! In particular, we will find out the most resounding false friends with English, French and Spanish!

Tricky words: FALSE FRIENDS with English, French and Spanish

Let’s begin with a word that is confusing for at least 4 students out of 5.


This word simply doesn’t exist in Italian and it comes from the English “annoying”. However, if something is “annoying” in English, in Italian it is “fastidioso”!

Instead, the Italian adjective “noioso” means “boring”, while “annoiato” means “bored”.


In French it is possible to “fermer” la porte, while in Italian we can’t “fermare” (to stop) the door, we can only “chiudere” (to close) it! “Fermare”, instead, means “to physically block someone or something in motion”, that is, in French, “arrêter”.

Don’t miss our video about the differences among FERMARE and SMETTERE


Many Spanish people translate “esposar”, which means “ammanettare” in Italian (to handcuff), as “sposare” (to marry), that is “casarse” in Spanish.


An Italian “argomento” is “topic” or “subject” of a conversation.

However, many use the word “argomento” with the meaning of “litigio“, “scontro“, “diverbio” (fight, argument), because of the influence of the English word “argument”.


In French, many children eat in a “cantine” at school, which is called “mensa” (cafeteria) in Italian.

Instead, the Italian “cantina” is not appropriate for children, since it is the basement of a house or the wine cellar (“cave” in French).

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In Spanish, “largo” refers to what is “lungo” (long) in Italian. For example, “un ponte lungo” (a long bridge) is “un puente largo” in Spanish.

Instead, the Italian “largo” (large, wide) refers to what is “amplio”, “ancho” in Spanish. Therefore “una habitación ancha” will be “una stanza larga” (a wide room)!


We usually read and listen to this kind of sentences: “Il governo dovrebbe investire di più nell’educazione” or “Io non ho potuto studiare, ma mio figlio è ben educato”.

The problem is that the English word “education” means to get a regular cultural preparation, generally at school; in Italian, instead, in this case, we’ll talk about “istruzione” and the person who receives it is “istruita” (educated).

Educazione” exists in Italian, but it is the transfer of moral and cultural values (“good manners”, “politeness” in English).

“Educazione” is what our parents teach us: to be polite, to respect others, to give way to older people, not to speak with your mouth full… Therefore, someone might be educated but not polite and viceversa!


If you’re “affolés” because of an event or some news in French, in Italian you can’t be “affollati”!

In fact, in Italian, only places can be “affollati” (crowded, “bondés” in French), when a person is struck by something in a negative way, then we’ll say he or she is “sconvolto”, “nel panico” or “scioccato” (shocked, upset).


In Italian“caldo” refers to something that has a very high temperature: “Fa caldo oggi: ci sono 35º gradi fuori” (It’s very hot today: it’s 35° outside). In Spanish: “caliente“, “calor“.

On the contrary, the Spanish “caldo” is a kind of food that is called “brodo” in Italian (soup).


Many foreigners use this word as the translation for “actually”, used in English to clarify, to specify something.

However, the Italian translation for “actually” is not “attualmente” (which means “in questo periodo”, “oggigiorno”, “di questi tempi” – currently), but “in realtà”.

11 – NONNA

A French “nonne” is not an Italian “nonna”, but a “suora” (nun)! The Italian “nonna”, instead, is the French “grand-mère” (grandmother), that is our parents’ mum.

12 – VASO

Spanish people drink water in a “vaso”. Italian people, instead, put flowers and plants in a “vaso” (“jarrón“, in Spanish – pot, vase in English). Italians use a “bicchiere” (glass) to drink water!

Alright! Now, have a look at all our Italian lessons!

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

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