Global communications in English

Quick tips

What’s the difference between deduce and deduct?

Sherlock HolmesAlthough both deduce and deduct are related to the noun deduction, they mean different things. Deduce means ‘conclude through reasoning’, while deduct means ‘take away’:

What can be deduced from these figures?
From this, Watson, I think we can deduce that the murderer was a man.

Tax will be deducted from your wages automatically.
You can deduct reasonable business expenses from your income for tax purposes.

Accordingly, deduction has two meanings:

A brilliant deduction, Holmes!
Deduction of car expenses is not allowed in your case.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Don’t overuse the &-sign

ampersandThe &-sign — or the ampersand, to give it its proper name — is often used by Dutch speakers to represent and, even in quite formal texts. This is considered bad style in English. The only really acceptable use of & is now in names, provided it forms part of the official name. For example, the names of companies and organisations, such as Marks & Spencer, Tiffany & Co., Procter & Gamble, Barnes & Noble, Standard & Poor’s, Faber & Faber, Johnson & Johnson, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and HM Revenue & Customs; departmental names, such as Research & Development, Sales & Marketing, Finance & Accounting and Training & Development; magazine titles, such as Sky & Telescope, Chemistry & Industry and House & Garden; and newspaper section titles, such as Arts & Theatre, Fashion & Style and Food & Drink. It can also be used in bibliographical references to refer to two co-authors (e.g., Smith & Jones, 2003).

In case you’re wondering, the ampersand was originally a shorthand way of writing the Latin word et (‘and’), and its name is a corruption of the phrase ‘and per se — and’, meaning ”the character ‘&’ by itself means ‘and’”.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Don’t confuse rise and raise

risingThe verbs rise and raise are easily confused, but rise means ‘to go up’, whereas raise means ‘to cause (something) to rise’, ‘lift (something)’, ‘bring up (children)’ or ‘gather, collect (money, armies, support, etc.)’. Notice that rise never has an object (lijdend voorwerp), but raise always does (underlined below).

For example:

Hot air rises.
Prices have been rising steadily for years.
The president rose from his chair to greet his visitor.

He raised his hand to vote in favour of the motion.
They raised their children to be honest.
She raises funds for political parties.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

According to…

What do you think?Do not use according to me if you mean to say volgens mij. Use instead I think…, I believe…, in my view,…, in my opinion,…, or in my judgement,

I think Paul said he was going to the bank.
I don’t think you should do that.
I believe the closing date for entries is next Friday.
In my view, Jane should have won first prize.

According to… is never used with me, but only with him, her, them and you (or a name). This is because it is used by people to distance themselves from what someone else says or thinks. That’s why it’s often used in news reports or court cases: e.g., “According to the accused, he was at home that evening, watching television.”

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Careless or carefree?

Children swingingBe careful not to confuse careless and carefree!

If someone is careless, they do not pay enough attention to what they are doing. If something is careless, someone has not given it enough attention. For example:

It was very careless of you to leave the door unlocked last night.
I’m worried about Jimmy’s bad spelling and careless handwriting.
One careless remark made when the microphone was switched on lost him the election.

If someone is carefree, they have no worries or are even irresponsible. If something is carefree, it causes no worries or problems. For example:

These days, her life is peaceful and she seems carefree.
He is very carefree with other people’s money.
He led a carefree life in that big, rambling farmhouse.

In other words, careless corresponds to Dutch onzorgvuldig, and carefree corresponds to Dutch zorgeloos.

©2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands



False friends: inform and informeren

InformationThe English verb to inform and the Dutch verb informeren both have to do with the transfer of information, but they are not used in exactly the same way.

Dutch informeren can mean ‘to tell someone something’, as in:

Op 21 mei informeerde ik u over mijn standpunt.
Wij zijn niet goed geïnformeerd.

English inform is used in the same way:

The chair of the committee informed him that he had won first prize.
I wasn’t informed about this.

However, Dutch informeren can also mean ‘to find out (or try to find out) some information’, as in:

Hij informeerde naar de tijd van de eerstvolgende trein.
Ik ga even informeren.

English inform can’t be used in this way, so you can’t ‘inform about something’ in English. To get the Dutch meaning, you need to use enquire (or inquire), ask or find out:

He enquired about the time of the next train.
We asked about other possibilities.
I’ll go and find out.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Is it accessible or accessable – or perhaps assessable?

Handicapped Accessible signIf you mean ‘able to be reached’, then it is accessible.

Accessible is one of those words in English that you might expect to be written with -able, but which unfortunately don’t oblige. Most of them are of Latin origin. Some are quite common (like possible, horrible, terrible, sensible, flexible, incredible, and responsible). Others, however, are less common, though still words you may regularly come across:

(in)feasible (un)able to be done or carried out
(in)admissible (un)able to be admitted, or allowed
(in)comprehensible (un)able to be comprehended or understood
(in)corruptible (un)able to be corrupted
(in)divisible (un)able to be divided
(in)edible (un)able to be eaten, uneatable
(un)intelligible (un)able to be understood
invincible unable to be defeated, undefeatable
negligible able to be neglected or forgotten, insignificant
(im)permissible (un)able to be permitted
(in)omissible (un)able to be omitted or left out
(im)perceptible (un)able to be perceived or observed
(in)tangible (un)able to be touched, (non-)physical
(im)plausible (un)likely

Assessable is an entirely different word, meaning ‘able to be assessed’ (‘evaluated, measured’). The two words also sound quite different. The -cc- in accessible is pronounced -ks-, so the word is pronounced ak-SESS-i-bul; assessable is pronounced as it looks: a-SESS-a-bul.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Interview – a false friend

Quick interviewThe word interview is a false friend for Dutch speakers of English. The word was adopted into Dutch with the specific meaning of a conversation between a reporter and a well-known person about the latter’s views or experiences, for publication in a magazine or newspaper or for broadcasting on radio or TV. It can also refer to the published or broadcast version of that conversation.

However, in English, interview has a much broader meaning. It can refer to any relatively formal meeting. Beside the meaning the word has in Dutch, interview can also refer (for example) to a discussion between an employer and a candidate for a job (Dutch: sollicitatiegesprek), between a police officer and a suspect (Dutch: verhoor), between a manager and a staff member (functioneringsgesprek, evaluatiegesprek, etc.), and between a reporter and anyone who is being asked a number of questions (vraaggesprek). Interview is also a verb: you can be interviewed for a job, you can be interviewed by the police, or interviewed by a newspaper reporter.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Wide or broad?

RiverEnglish broad and Dutch breed are false friends. In Dutch, breed can refer to a physical or a metaphorical dimension:

Hoe breed is de rivier op dit punt?
De brede samenstelling van de commissie is een groot voordeel.

In English, wide is usually used for physical dimensions, and broad for metaphorical ones:

How wide is the river at this point?
We have reached broad agreement on this issue.

We also talk of a broad range, a broad spectrum, (a) broad consensus, a broad coalition, broad-minded, and so on.

The use of wide in the metaphorical sense is also possible, but more limited, occurring especially in conjunction with variety, range and selection.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

Don’t get your millions and billions tangled up!

One hundred trillion dollarsA Dutch miljard (1,000,000,000 or 109) is a billion in US English. A Dutch biljoen (1,000,000,000,000 or 1012) is a trillion, while a Dutch biljard is a quadrillion. These terms are also used these days in British government publications and most British newspapers. Formerly, in UK English billion was used for 1012, just like Dutch biljoen, and a Dutch miljard was a thousand million. Summing up:

Dutch               American/Modern British Old-fashioned British      
miljard billion thousand million
biljoen trillion billion
biljard quadrillion thousand billion

Note that the term milliard for Dutch miljard officially exists in UK English, but is virtually never used.

If you need to abbreviate either million or billion, note that the most widely used abbreviations are m for million and bn for billion: e.g., 24m, 35 bn. For some unknown reason, m follows the number without a space, while bn is normally preceded by a space. The abbreviation mio, sometimes seen in European languages, does not exist in English.

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

© 2013 - Baxter Communications | Hilversum - NL