Translation problems between romance and germanic languages

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This page is aimed for listing common problems dealing with translating between romance and germanice languages. The same problem may for example occur for Spanish-English, Spanish-Dutch, Spanish-German, Frenc-English, French-Dutch, French-German. So finding a strategy can help in our example for at least 6 pairs. The problems may not occur for all Romance languages but for most or several of them. The same rule apply for Germanic languages.

Feminine and masculine possessive[edit]

In Germanic languages : the possessive has a different form for a masculine or feminine antecedent (possessor). But in Romance it is the same form.


  • Dutch: haar vs zijn
  • English: her vs his
  • German: ihr vs sein
  • Afrikaans hy vs sy


  • French: son, sa, ses
  • Spanish: su, sus

To be vs to have[edit]

For several cases, to be in Germanic corresponds to to have in Romance.



  • Dutch : ik ben 20
  • English : I am 20
  • German: Ich bin 20


  • French: j'ai vingt ans
  • Spanish: tengo 20 años

Note also that years old is often not used.

Hunger, thirst[edit]


Dutch and German are more like Romance languages

  • Dutch: ik heb honger, ik heb dorst
  • German: ich habe Hunger, ich habe Durst
  • English: I am hungry, I am thirsty


  • French: j'ai faim, j'ai soif
  • Spanish: tengo hambre, tengo sed

Verbs with separating prefixes[edit]

In some Germanic languages (Afrikaans, Dutch, German but not English ), there are verbs with separating prefixes. But not in Romance languages.

See Separable verbs and Multiwords

Verb at the end of the embedded clause[edit]

In some Germanic languages (Dutch, German but not English) the verb is at the end of the embedded clause (SOV) but not in Romance languages (SVO).

Sentences starting with an adverb[edit]

In some Germanic languages (Dutch, German), the verb is always at the second place in the main clause even if there is an adverb at the begining of the sentence (adverb verb subject object) and in Romance languages the verb goes after the verb (adverb subject verb object).