Place as a false friend

Place as a false friend

Here’s a false friend a German lady reminded me of today on the train. The correct translation of the German word Platz (short for Sitzplatz) is not place, but seat. Hence, if you are trying to defend or claim your seat, do not say

This is my place!

Moreover, when asking if a seat is available, do not say

Is this place free?

but use, for example,

Is this seat taken?


The word place can also be a false friend in other contexts. For example, the German word Platz (space) is often incorrectly translated as place, as in

I need a lot of place.

instead of

I need a lot of space.



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