Common False Friends in English – for French Speakers
Attention French speakers – beware of false friends in the English Language
It’s easy to confuse similar words, especially when learning a new language. Here are some examples of ‘False Friends’ in English and French, but we have them in other languages too.
What is a False Friend in a foreign language?
There are many common English words which appear to be the same in French, but which have an entirely different meaning. Lots of French and English words are indeed the same, as they often have the same origin, but there are some words which look or sound identical and are in fact ‘False Friends’ or ‘False Cognates’ as they are known in linguistic circles. So be sensible and make a habit of checking if the words which you happily recycle into English, really convey the meaning that you expect.
One obvious answer would be to join a good English course. However, the age of the internet has brought along many wonderful and useful tools that have made our life easier. Sat-navs, e-book readers and the myriad tools available in Microsoft Word such as spell-check and auto correct all attempt to improve our productivity in some way.
The downside of using these tools without giving it much thought, especially inbuilt typing tools such as auto-correct commonly found in MS Word also means that without a conscious effort, we could very likely be using words inappropriately without having fully understood what they mean.
Lets take a look here at some very simple ways you can steadily improve your English grammatical skills and mistakes to avoid
1) Understand the meaning and spelling of the more complex words in your vocabulary before you use them
This is perhaps the most common mistake people make when speaking in English: using incorrect spellings not just of complex words but often very simple ones as well. Take the example of ‘they’re, their and there’.
Common mistakes in English: stationary vs stationery
Are they two different words or is it just a spelling mistake?
These two words are often confused. Stationary is an adjective. Means standing still, not moving. Stationery is a noun. Means writing materials, as pen, paper, envelope, ink, ruler.
Word origin: from Latin ‘stationem’ (station). ‘Stationarius’ in Medieval Latin was a stationary seller. (Peddlers were more common in the Middle Ages). ‘Stationers’, sellers with a fixed location, were often bookshops. From the 18th century ‘stationery’ was used for articles sold by a stationer, seller of books and paper.
This is a question very often asked by our students: Does anybody or do anybody?
Answer: DOES is correct.
Does anybody vs Do anybody
Do you know why ‘Does anybody’ is correct?
‘Anybody’ is a third person singular form and takes -s in the present simple tense. That’s why the question form requires -s and ‘Does anybody’ is correct. The same would apply to ‘Does anyone’, ‘Does anything’ etc. Here are some examples:
Yes. To book your English course online, request a placement test and we will send it to you by e-mail. Registration form can be also sent by e-mail.
Will I get a certificate?
Yes, on your request. It is a good idea to collect certificates showing your progress in English and add them to your professional portfolio. There is an administration fee of £5 for the issue of a certificate.
Is there a registration fee?
No. Many English schools charge registration fees, but we don’t. You will only pay your course fees. However, if you book other services with us, additional fees may apply.
Do I need a course book?
If you attend our part-time English courses, you will need to buy a course book. With our intensive English courses student books are available to buy or borrow from the school.
What if I miss my class?
Don’t worry, if you miss one or two lessons, you will be able to follow your course. Ask your teacher what was done, check with a colleague their notes and your text book.