Global communications in English

Quick tips

Fill in the gap: It’s the tallest building ___ the Netherlands.

De Maastoren, RotterdamIf you said of, you can learn something today! After a superlative like biggest, tallest, most famous, and so on, we use in if we’re talking about the relationship of an object to a place.

So it’s the biggest building in the world, the best restaurant in the country, the first Internet cafe in Nepal, etc.). If you’re talking about the relationship of something with other items of the same sort, you use of, so it’s the most beautiful of the royal palaces I have seen, the best of the lot, the most interesting of his books on China, etc.

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Fill in the gap: “Sales increased ___ five per cent this year.”

IncreaseMany Dutch people are led astray here by the fact that the equivalent verb in Dutch takes met (‘with’). However, the correct preposition to use with verbs like increase, rise, grow, reduce, cut, slash, lower, fall, decline, extend, lengthen or shorten to indicate ‘how much’ is by:

We have slashed prices by 25 per cent!
Official Development Assistance has declined by one-third.
The number of internet users is growing by leaps and bounds.
The roofline has been lowered by 34mm to 1390mm.
The gap between rich and poor widened by EUR 243 a week last year.
Annual asthma-related costs have been reduced by more than EUR 13,000.  

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Abbreviating number and numbers

telephone_numbersThe English abbreviation of number is no., and the plural is nos. Do not use nr. – this is the English abbreviation of near.

Tel. no.
Report No. 235097
Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Price or prize?


What’s the difference between a price and a prize? A price is the money you pay for something when you buy it. A prize is an award that you win in a competition if you perform better than everyone else.

Many languages (e.g., Dutch, German and French) have only one word for both concepts.

Be careful to pronounce the two words differently. Price is pronounced short and sharp with a ‘hard’ s. Prize is longer and more relaxed, with a ‘soft’ z.

Click here to hear the difference.

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Silent b after m

letter-bIn almost all words in English whose spelling ends in -mb, the b is not actually pronounced. So all these words are pronounced without the b: bomb (rhymes with from), lamb (rhymes with ham), thumb and dumb (rhyme with gum), climb (rhymes with time), womb and tomb (rhyme with room), and limb (rhymes with Jim).

And how do you pronounce -mb- in the middle of a word? That depends on whether the word is related to one whose spelling ends in -mb. If it is, then the b is not pronounced: so you won’t hear it in bomber, lambing, climbing, dumbest, etc. If there is no such related word, then the b is pronounced, so timber, lumber, clamber, amber, etc., are pronounced the way they look!

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Do you really mean perspectives – or prospects?

perspective1Perspectives are not ‘future opportunities’, but ‘ways of looking at things’:

The report offers some good perspectives on what is going on.
The leaflet offers some very good perspectives to help you figure out your feelings.

For ‘future opportunities’, the word you need is prospects:

Prospects for the manufacturing sector are good.
What are the prospects for peace?
What are your career prospects?

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Beside or besides?

Two British phoneboxesHer office is beside (= next to) mine.

Besides (= in addition to) products, the company also provides many services.

Besides (= moreover), the company provides many services.

© 2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Don’t confuse ‘exciting’ and ‘exiting’

exit-signDon’t make the common spelling mistake of writing exciting without its -c-. If you do, you’ll end up with the totally different word exiting (pronounced EGG-zitting). This is a form of the verb to exit ‘to leave’.

©2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

False friends: ‘good’ and ‘goed’

GoodBe careful not to give something your approval when you don’t mean to. In English, good always expresses a favourable or positive judgement.

Although, like English good, Dutch goed can also express such approval, it more often only expresses agreement or acceptance – cases where English would use OK, all right, right or correct:

A: Ik bel je straks. B: Goed.
A: I’ll call you later. B: OK.

A: Mag hij ook mee? B: Ja, goed, maar alleen als er ruimte is.
A: Can he come too? B: All right, but only if there’s room.

A: Ik zie je om 10 uur. B: Goed. Tot dan.
A: I’ll see you at 10. B: Right, see you then.

Dat is niet het goede antwoord.
That’s not the correct answer.

© 2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Lastly or at last?

DruckThese two expressions look very similar, but it’s important not to confuse them, because their meanings are quite different.

Lastly,… (Dutch ten slotte).

For example:
Lastly, I would just like to say…

At last/At long last (Dutch eindelijk).

For example:
At last! Where have you been?!

© 2015 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

© 2013 - Baxter Communications | Hilversum - NL