In German, there's a phrase "es gibt [x]" that is generally translated as "there is/are [x]" in English. (Or at least, that's what Duolingo has led me to believe.)

Recently, I've been hearing the slang phrase "it's giving [x]" in English-language queer spaces. It's a tongue-in-cheek phrase meaning something like "it reminds me of [x]" or "it is projecting [x] energy/vibes." For example, if a friend's outfit was all glittery unicorns, I might quip "it's giving Claire's."

I've been curious if these false friends are confusing for German speakers? Given it's the literal translation of such a fundamental grammatical phrase, is it disorienting to hear this phrase?

  • 4
    Gee, I'm a native English speaker and it confuses me; I've never heard it before. It seems like "es gibt" is actually closer to what you describe than the standard meaning of "give". In any case, there are other possible uses of "it gives/it's giving" in English and German speakers don't seem to have problems with that: "What does a cow do? It gives milk." I don't think German speakers think that means "Milk exists."
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 18:47
  • PS. I'm pretty sure this is definition 18 in the Wiktionary entry, in case anyone needs additional examples.
    – RDBury
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 19:03

2 Answers 2


My subjective answer: it's not confusing, it will simply not be understood. I see no false friends issue here, since the standard meaning of to give simply does not fit.


Hm. "It's giving..." says it echoes some other (more real) effect. German speakers who did not spent a year or more in the (recent) US will not grasp it. But in translation there are similar German expressions that translate the effect into something targeting the real (receiving) body: "Das macht mir Bauchschmerzen." = "that problem generates pain in my stomach". "Das bereitet mir Freude" (hillarious phrase in one of the Touche cartoons). "Das gibt mir zu Denken" = that looks doubtful to me. "Da kriege ich Zahnschmerzen" (= this reminds me of tooth aches...) "Da kriegt man ja Kopfschmerzen..." or "da wird man ja dusselig" (=that's mind boggling)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.