Home » Blog » Personnel and Personal Problems

Portraits of people thinking

Personnel and Personal Problems

What is the difference in meaning when you say ‘I am having personnel problems at the moment’ and when you say ‘I am having personal problems at the moment’? The words sound very similar, but these two sentences have very different meanings, and only one of these words is the correct translation for the German word ‘Personal.’

If we want to talk about problems at work with staffing, for example a high sickness rate or too many people on holiday, then we need to talk about ‘personnel’ problems. If you talk about having ‘personal’ problems in English, this doesn’t mean that you have problems with staff at work, it means that you are having private problems; ‘persönliche’ problems that you probably don’t want to talk about in the workplace!

This is one important example of ‘false friends’ between German and English – words that sound similar and are spelled similarly or the same but have different meanings. If you want to avoid getting too ‘personal’ with people at work, then it’s important to pay attention to these differences!