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art vs. Art

English art and German Art are false friends.

German die Art actually can mean species, kind, way, manner and is at the core a word for “how” something is and what category it belongs to.

  • Thomas hat eine komische Art zu laufen.
  • Thomas has a weird way of walking.
  • Maria kennt viele Pflanzenarten.
  • Maria knows many plant species.
  • Welche Art Urlaub machst du am liebsten?
  • What type of vacation do you like the most?

The original sense of the family was “fitting/joining together”, and in English it used to also include crafts, before it shifted toward … well.. being an artist.
In German, the word shifted away from creating the work toward “categorizing” it.

By the way, the German word for art is die Kunst, which is of course a relative of können (can).

If you want to read more about this and see examples, check out the article on YourDailyGerman:

art vs. Art – False Friends explained