Global communications in English
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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

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© 2013 - Baxter Communications | Hilversum - NL