Global communications in English
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False friends: ‘adequaat’ and ‘adequate’

Tiny but adequate cabinThey look alike, but they have subtly different connotations! Both adequaat and adequate derive from Latin ad (‘to’) plus aequatus (‘made equal’), and originally meant ‘equal to the task’. But today, the English word is often used in negative contexts, indicating that, although something may be sufficient for a particular purpose, it is hardly any more than that.

For example:

We should not undertake the trip without making adequate preparations.
Do we have an adequate supply of food?
The project failed through a lack of adequate support.
His overall performance was barely adequate.
The star’s acting was adequate, but no more than that.
The accommodation was hardly adequate by today’s standards.
The measurements will be adequate but may contain some errors.
The cabin at first seemed small, but it was perfectly adequate for our needs.

The Dutch word, however, is more commonly used in a positive way, to indicate that something is properappropriate, efficient or effective. It’s therefore important to be careful when using adequate in English: you may be making something sound worse than it is!

© 2014 Baxter Publishing, Hilversum, The Netherlands

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© 2013 - Baxter Communications | Hilversum - NL