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.
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.
What is the difference between anyone and anybody?
Which one should I use, ‘anyone’ or ‘anybody’?
Have you ever wondered which form is better to use? Here we have some help for you.
The answer is: both are correct and both mean the same. However ‘anybody’ is less formal and ‘anyone’ will suit more formal expressions. You will want to use ‘anyone’ in formal English or in writing whereas ‘anybody’ will sound natural in everyday informal English.
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:
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