Take a look at these three words: éventuellement, actuellement, forcément. If you read one of our previous lessons, you would probably guess that these words are all adverbs. And you would be right! You might also guess that they mean "eventually," "actually," and "forcefully." No such luck this time. These words are all false cognates (or faux amis, literally "false friends"), which are words that look similar in two languages but mean different things. French and English share too many faux amis to include in one lesson, so for now we'll focus on these three deceptive adverbs.
Éventuellement is synonymous with possiblement, which means "possibly" (no false friends there!). It can also be more specifically translated as "when necessary" or "if needed."
Éventuellement dans... dans telle ou telle de cir'... situation...
Possibly, in... in such and such a cir'... situation...
Caption 19, Actu Vingtième - La burqaPlay Caption
Aujourd'hui il y a dix-sept médicaments disponibles,
Today there are seventeen medications available,
utilisés éventuellement en combinaison.
sometimes used in combination.
Caption 17, Le Journal - Le sidaPlay Caption
"Eventually" is usually translated as finalement (finally) or tôt ou tard (sooner or later):
J'ai décidé finalement de ne pas aller à la fête.
I eventually decided not to go to the party.
Nous y arriverons tôt ou tard.
We'll get there eventually.
Our second adverb, actuellement, is not "actually," but "currently" or "presently":
Actuellement sans travail, ils résident aujourd'hui près de Saintes, en France...
Currently unemployed, they now live near Saintes, in France...
Caption 3, Le Journal - Les Français de Côte d'IvoirePlay Caption
"Actually" in French is en fait (in fact):
Et... pour imaginer le texte, en fait j'ai eu une vision dans ma tête.
And... to imagine the lyrics, actually I had a vision in my head.
Caption 16, Melissa Mars - On "Army of Love"Play Caption
And in case this wasn't complicated enough, "currently" has a faux ami of its own: couramment (fluently).
Nicole parle couramment cinq langues.
Nicole speaks five languages fluently.
Finally, forcément means "necessarily" or "inevitably." "Forcefully" is simply avec force or avec vigueur:
Je l'aime bien, mais euh, enfin,
I like him all right, but uh, well,
ce n'est pas forcément le meilleur qui soit...
he's not necessarily the best there is...
Caption 14, Interviews à Central Park - Discussion politiquePlay Caption
This one actually makes sense if you break up the word. Like many adverbs, forcément is made up of an adjective (forcé) plus the ending -ment, which corresponds to the English adverbial ending -ly. Forcé(e) means "forced," so forcément literally means "forcedly" or "done under force," i.e., "necessarily."
Actuellement and éventuellement are also made up of an adjective plus -ment, and their adjectives are also false cognates: actuel(le) means "current" (not "actual") and éventuel(le) means "possible" (not "eventual"). These words have noun forms as well: les actualités are the news or current events, and une éventualité is a possibility. (Interestingly, éventualité is a cognate of "eventuality," another word for "possibility.")
English and French share so many faux amis that there are entire books dedicated to the subject. But if you're not itching to memorize them all right away, you can learn why there are so many of them in this article.