There are many thousands of German words that are cognate to English words, in fact a sizeable fraction of native German and English vocabulary, although for various reasons much of it is not immediately obvious. Yet many of them are easy to correlate, since the German words follow the rules of High German consonant shift, which is a German phenomenon and makes English stay closer to the protogermanic language, from which both, English and German, derive. These rules are:
engl. t → germ. s (after a vowel)
engl. t → germ. z
German "z" is pronounced "ts"
engl. c → germ. k
engl. f → germ. v
engl. p → germ. f (after a vowel)
engl. p → germ. pf
engl. k → germ. ch (after a vowel)
engl. ch → germ. k
also: chest/Kiste, child/Kind
engl. gh → germ. ch (after a vowel)
The now-silent gh marks places in English words which once had a sound much like Greek "chi". (Chaucer's English pronounced "light" very similarly to modern German Licht.)
engl. d → germ. t
engl. th → germ. d
engl. th → germ. t
engl. v → germ. b
engl. f → germ. b
engl. x → germ. chs
cf k → ch, as above.
engl. y → germ. g
engl. y → germ. ig
engl. w → germ. b
engl. w → germ. g
Most of the words in the following table have almost the same meaning as in English.
When cognates have slightly different consonants, this is often due to the High German consonant shift. Vowels tend to be more unpredictable than consonants, and there are cases where the vowel(s) found in a German word in a non-standard dialect have a greater affinity with English than with standard German:
kumm rin (Palat.)
There are cognates whose meanings in either language have changed through the centuries. It is sometimes difficult for both English and German speakers to discern the relationship. On the other hand, once the definitions are made clear, then the logical relation becomes obvious. Sometimes the generality or specificity of word pairs may be opposite in the two languages.
Meaning of German word
the cognate prefix German 'ant' is equal to Old English 'and-'〈"against"〉(→an). 'wort'=word, 'swer'=swear, so the suffix isn't cognate.
Both derive from West Germanic *baumoz meaning "tree". It is the English one which, in Anglo-Saxon and Old English, has radically changed its meaning several times. (The original meaning is retained in the English terms for some trees, such as hornbeam.)
cf. to throw (make) a pot by turning it on a wheel
O.E. faran "to journey, to make one's way", from P.Gmc. *faranan (cf. Goth. faran, Ger. fahren), from PIE *por- "going, passage"
to fence (sport)
the original meaning of Gift in German can still be seen in the German deflection Mitgift "dowry"
sensation has been taken away; cf. German benommen, 'dazed'
to guess, to advise
cf. riddle, akin to German Rätsel
cf. also ritzen in German - "to scratch" -, the old intensive form
The verb smart retains this meaning
Sense of Ger. cognate schlecht developed from "smooth, plain, simple" to "bad", and as it did it was replaced in the original senses by schlicht, a back-formation from schlichten "to smooth, to plane," a derivative of schlecht in the old sense. "Bad" refers to "bête" in French or to "bestia" in Latin
the root is used in German Gezeiten as Tiden ('tides') and belongs to the old Saxon vocabulary in German
German and English also share many borrowings from other languages, especially Latin, French and Greek. Most of these words have the same meaning, while a few have subtle differences in meaning. As many of these words have been borrowed by numerous languages, not only German and English, they are called internationalisms in German linguistics. For reference, a good number of these borrowed words are of the neuter gender.