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Mounir Elazami

About the Author
Mohammad Hashemi is a teacher, editor, translator and ESL author ... » more

False Cognates in French & English

1. What is a false friend or false cognate?

False friends (faux amis in French) are words in two languages that look the same but are often very different in meaning. A good example is the word “formidable,” used in the title of this book. “Le français formidable” is not “scary French,” as the English “Formidable French” suggests, but rather “beautiful” or “excellent French.”

2. Why are false friends important?

False friends are very frustrating for language learners. The brain unconsciously uses the word in the same sense as in one's first language, sometimes even when one knows the difference consciously. As they say, "old habits die hard." It takes both conscious knowledge of the difference between the two items and lots of practice to master the word in the second language and separate it from the first language meanings and patterns.

3. What is in the book?

This book is divided into four chapters (masculine nouns, feminine nouns, verbs, and adjectives and adverbs). The authors have chosen 50 of the most commonly mistaken false and semi-false cognates in French, put them alongside their English counterparts, and provided the correct equivalents for both items in each pair. In addition to the translations, each lesson consists of detailed explanations of the words being studied. These explanations are then clearly illustrated by examples that place the words in context. Each lesson also provides the students with terms for further study as well as exercises for reinforcement. The diverse end-of-chapter and end-of-book review exercises (multiple choice, fill-in-the-blanks, matching, and puzzles) are designed to expose learners to more contextual examples and to refine their mastery of the difficulties discussed.

4. Who can benefit from this book the most?

This book is most suitable for anglophone learners of French at the intermediate or advanced level who are already familiar with basic French vocabulary and grammar, but who make usage errors due to the influence of their first language.

5. How is this book different from the competition?

There are several excellent books that list French false cognates comprehensively, but none has enough exercises to reinforce the learning. The abundance of mastery exercises in this book makes it a unique and indispensable textbook for adult learners in any kind of learning environment.