False Friends | Nieuws


Freelance English Language Trainer


Open University UK


  • Coaching
  • Technical English
  • Sales English
  • Presentations in English
  • Email English
  • English on the telephone
  • English in meetings
  • Report writing in English

Everyone learns English at school nowadays, as well as being flooded with it through the media in the form of pop songs, films and tv series.  Many companies have adopted English as the ‘company language’ to enable easier communication over borders. A lot of English gets ‘picked up’ and assumptions can be made as to the meaning of the words.

English and Dutch belong to the same language-family and English and Dutch grammar often seem similar, as well as some words being nearly the same in both languages, e.g. goed-good; inkt-ink; papier-paper; pen-pen. This can be misleading sometimes as some words which appear similar in fact have a different meaning than expected. We call these false friends.

These are examples I see and hear frequently:

‘This is the actual state of affairs’...  with the meaning that this is the current situation. ‘actual’ is not the correct word in this case, it should be ‘This is the current state of affairs’.

‘The direction decided to implement a new rule’...  the word ‘direction’ needs to be replaced ‘the Board of Directors’ or ‘the management’, depending on the level you are talking about.

‘It’s my meaning they are wrong’... the word ‘meaning’ in English has a different meaning!  Better is ‘In my opinion they are wrong’. In emails and on social media this is often seen in an abbreviated form – IMO and even sometimes IMHO (in my humble opinion).

‘I have solicited for a job’...  to solicit is a somewhat negative word in English – it means to beg or plead for something persistently or to sell sexual services for money – so this is probably not the impression the speaker wants to make!  It would be better to say ‘I have applied for a job’ (to apply for something).

‘A global figure of €5 million was earned’...  this means that €5 million was earned worldwide. If you intened to say that the figure is not exact you can better say ‘An approximate / A rough figure of €5 million was earned’...


Over jill child

I have done a personal training Cambridge Business Benchmark English with Jill and it has been really helpful.


Wilhelminalaan 58 6042 EP Roermond
T+31 (0) 615053316 Einfo@jillchild.nl