The most common mistakes in English made by German speakers
#1 Did you know that, unlike in some other languages, it is NEVER possible to write a country-related word with a small letter in English? Thus, whether you mean the language, the people or the adjective you always have to write English, German, French etc.
#2 To English ears it sounds unusual when foreign learners use the phrase’in former times’. Believe it or not we don’t use it. We tend to use a construction with ‘used to’. For example do NOT say ‘In former times I lived in Vienna’ but say ‘I used to live in Vienna’ instead.
#3 German executives take note!!! The word ‘headquarter’ does NOT — I repeat, NOT — exist. The word is always ‘headquarters’, i.e., with an ‘s’ at the end. The word ends in ‘s’, it has nothing to do with being singular or plural. An alternative is to use the phrase ‘head office’ or — though I personally don’t like it — ‘home office’, which some US firms use.
#4 Telecoms executives have often been surprised to discover that their English speakers look at them in confusion when they mention a ‘handy number’!!! In English the word ‘handy’ means ‘useful’, ‘practical’, ‘geographically close by’, ‘easy to use’. It has nothing to do with mobile phones.
#5 Being an abstract concept ‘information’ is an uncountable noun. ‘I need three informations’ is NOT correct. You should say: ‘I need some information’ or ‘I need three bits (or pieces) of information’.
#6 In English you begin the body of a letter with a capital letter even though you have followed your salutation (e.g., Dear Mrs Paxton) with a comma. This is WRONG: ‘Dear Mrs Paxton, thank you for your letter dated…. etc.’ The word ‘Thank’ should be capitalised.
#7 When describing figures and trends many foreign learners often confuse ‘to raise’ and ‘to rise’ . If you use ‘to increase’, which can be used in both senses, you will avoid the mistake.
#8. Another word that can lead to mistakes is ‘vocabulary’, which is a collective noun that means ‘a collection of words or phrases’. You should NOT talk about ‘learning your vocabularies’ as this is incorrect.
#9 Be careful when using the word ‘eventually’. If you say something will ‘eventually happen’ you mean that it is certain to happen but that it will happen sometime a long way off in the future. It does not express possibility or uncertainty about an event happening!
#10 If men go to a formal dinner or perhaps to a wedding or ball they have to wear special clothes: the jacket is called a ‘dinner jacket’ (DJ) or a Tuxedo (Tux) in American English. It is usually worn together with a ‘bow tie’.
#11 In English December 24th is known as Christmas Eve, December 25th as Christmas Day.
#12 Don’t confuse ‘to be ready ‘ and ‘to be finished’ as they have quite different meanings: You would say ‘I am ready’ AFTER you have spent time preparing something but BEFORE you do it. Hence it means: OK – we can start or leave now! ‘I’ve finished’ is said AFTER an event, i.e. after answering question 25 in a 25-question exam.
#13 When talking about your age it is not necessary to add the words ‘… years of age’. So ‘I am 33′ is enough and sounds perfectly correct. ‘I am 33 years’ is WRONG! .
#14 Be careful when using the word ‘respectively’. It is used to link two pairs of things such as names, ages, figures etc. For example a mother could say “My two sons Jamie & Michael are 27 and 33 respectively”. Therefore you know that the first age goes with the first name (Jamie is 27) and the second age with the second name (Michael is 33). Or she could say “My two sons Jamie & Michael studied in Sheffield and Edinburgh respectively”. Or you could use it to talk about sales. Sales rose in 1998 and 1999 by 10% and 15% respectively. Please note too that the word is placed at the end of the sentence.
#15 The abbreviation i.e., means ‘that is’ and comes from the Latin ‘id est’. It does NOT mean ‘in example’ but can be used as “FOR example”
#16 We do NOT say shares or stocks or a stake ‘of’ a company; it is more correct to say shares, stocks, holdings, a stake ‘in’ a company.
#17 If you go to the cinema and you find Julia Roberts speaking French to Richard Gere, or Sean Connery introducing himself as Bond, James Bond in Punjabi then the film has been ‘dubbed’ not synchronised into the respective foreign language.
#18 Be careful when saying the word ‘executive’. The stress is on the second syllable, i.e., eXECutive. It has nothing to do with executions and people being killed!
#19 When talking about time / duration many foreign learners often confuse the verbs ‘to take’ and ‘to last’. We use ‘to last’ for fixed durations, i.e., for films, concerts, operas etc. We use ‘to take’ when the duration may vary as a result of external factors. Examples: Hamlet lasts over 5 hours; the flight from Cologne to Leeds takes one hour; the exam lasted 3 hours but it took me 40 minutes to understand the first question. It is not usual to say ‘I need 40 minutes to drive to work’, instead say ‘it takes me 40 minutes…’.
#20 Another word for ‘to buy’ is ‘to purchase’ but the stress is on the first syllable: ‘to PURchase’ not to ‘purCHASE’. Also it is the ‘PURchasing Department’.
#21 The word ‘single’ meaning unmarried is an adjective so it is correct to say ‘I am single’. You shouldn’t say ‘I am a single’.
#22 There are several instances when the stress of a word changes depending on whether it is a noun or a verb. The word ‘survey’ is a case in point. You carry out a SURvey but you surVEY a market.
#23 Finance executives beware (German ones especially)!!. The word ‘fund’ has a much more general meaning than you might think. A fund is ‘a reserve of money set aside for a certain purpose’. Examples are ‘fund-raising in the charity sector’, ‘school funds’, ‘the church roof fund’, ‘pension fund’, etc. The technical term for the fund underlying an insurance investment that is linked to the stock market is a ‘unit trust’ or (in US English) a ‘mutual fund’.
Don’t forget that English also has a verb ‘to fund’ which has the same meaning as ‘to finance’. For example: ‘In Germany, schools are funded by the regional state governments’.
#24 In English you HAVE an experience, you don’t make an experience.
#25 The break in a theatre play or in a cinema performance is called an interval — or occasionally an intermission, at school, in a meeting, workshop etc we call the gap between lessons or sessions a break, e.g. coffee break. A pause is only a break in a conversation.
#26 The word ‘incentive’ doesn’t only refer to money. The Collins English Dictionary defines it as ‘a motivating influence or a stimulus’.
#27 It is correct to say “not as …… as” ; incorrect “not so ….. as”. For example, “Leeds is not as big as London”.
#28 In English it is more common to say to RUN a department or a division or a country rather than to lead it. But the person is usually called the HEAD of the Department.
#29 You use cc in e-mails but what does it mean? It stands for ‘carbon copy’ and dates back to the dark ages (or BG as in Before Gates!) before word processors and Word for Windows when you used to have to put a sheet of purple carbon paper in your typewriter if you wanted a second copy.
#30 The religious festival celebrating the Resurrection of Christ is called Easter (not Eastern). There is no ‘N’ at the end!! The Friday before Easter is called Good Friday.
#31 BBC2, Channel 4, ITV , ARD, RTL, Canal +, ORF 1 etc are television stations or television channels, they are NOT programmes. A television programme is the actual content that is broadcast on the channel such as Black Adder, The Nine O’Clock News, Friends, Big Brother etc.
#32 In English a day where most people do not have to work, such as Christmas Day, Easter Monday etc is known as a ‘bank holiday’. Thus you will hear the expressions ‘a bank holiday weekend’ and ‘bank holiday Monday’. Moreover, with the exception of those bank holidays that are tied to religious festivals such as Christmas or Easter, most bank holidays are on a Monday. This means long weekends for everyone.
#33 In correct British English the verb ‘to administrate’ doesn’t exist; the correct verb is ‘to administer’.
#34 Remember that the verb which expresses necessity is ‘to have to do something’ — the forms are I have to ….; he has to …..; I don’t have to ….; I had to ……; I didn’t have to ….. etc. etc. The form ‘I must’ is only an alternative form of ‘I have to’ and isn’t used as often as you might think.
#35 Don’t confuse the words ‘by’ and ‘until’. If you are talking about a deadline, i.e. you mean ‘at the latest’ then you should use ‘by’. For example ‘I have to finish my report by Friday’; ‘Please reply by the end of the week’. The word ‘until’ looks forward from the moment of speaking until the actual deadline and describes all the time available from the moment in question until that deadline. Examples would be ‘I have until Friday to finish my report’; ‘I have until the end of the week to reply’.
#36 German executives please note: The financial abbreviation ROI stands for ‘return on investment’ NOT ‘return on invest’!!!
#37 In English we talk about ‘having a baby’ not ‘getting a baby’. For example, ‘Cherie Blair, Mrs PM, has just had a baby’
#38 The verb ‘to discuss’ means to talk about. But DON’T SAY to say ‘to discuss about’. This is like saying ‘to talk about about’!!!!
#39 Many firms (some would say too many) use management consultants but don’t be confused as to the meaning of the verb ‘to consult’! It means to ask for advice. So a firm such as McKinsey doesn’t consult your company, your company consults McKinsey; McKinsey advises.
#40 A question of usage: it would be unusual for a man to refer to his purse; he would be more likely to talk about his ‘wallet’ when describing the container for his money, credit cards, driving licence, condoms etc. A woman, on the other hand, would talk about her purse. But beware! In American English ‘purse’ can mean ‘handbag’ too.
#41 In English we say today, tomorrow and tonight but we say this morning, this afternoon and this evening. We do NOT say ‘this night’, ‘today evening’ or ‘today in the afternoon’ We do say ‘last night’ but not ‘last evening’, ‘last afternoon’ or ‘last morning’; instead say yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening.
#42 Be careful when using the word ‘irritate’! If you are irritated it means that you are a little bit angry or annoyed; something has got on your nerves. It does not mean that you are a little bit confused.
#43 Don’t think that the English word ‘boss’ is slang, informal or derogatory. It is a perfectly correct way to describe someone who is your superior.
#44 In English we often use the word ‘off’ to describe periods when we don’t have to work or are not at work. For example: ‘I am taking next week off’; ‘Can I have next Friday off?’; ‘Mr Summer always takes Monday afternoons off’; ‘No he isn’t available, he has taken the day off’. It is not really correct to refer to a ‘free day’.
#45 Don’t forget about the adjective ‘spare’ meaning something that you don’t need or are not using at the moment. Examples include ‘a spare room’ or ‘a spare bed’, which can be used if you have guests to stay overnight; ‘a spare wheel or spare tyre’, which is the fifth one that you keep in the boot; ‘spare time’ which is what the Americans refer to as ‘leisure time’; ‘spare change’ which is what you will be asked for by beggars and homeless people if you arrive at London Kings Cross.
#46 I am often asked, ‘How do I write that?’ Being sarcastic I am often tempted to answer, ‘With a pen’. Of course people should ask, ‘How do I spell that?’
#47 Someone who works for the state or for local or central government in the UK is called a civil servant and is a member of the civil service. This can cause confusion in some languages. If you want to describe the alternative to compulsory military service that is available in some countries you should use terms like ‘alternative service’ or ‘civilian service’. Beware of the term ‘community service’ as it also has the meaning of being an alternative to a prison sentence. For example, the French footballer Eric Cantona was forced to do community service (in the form of youth football coaching) after he attacked a fan of a rival team who had insulted him.
#48 Though words like ‘blue collar worker’, ‘white collar worker’ exist in English we don’t tend to distinguish between the two kinds of employee as strictly as other countries do. Executive clients have looked at me in horror as I described them as workers. A worker is someone who works, who has a job and can be anyone from the dustbin man to the managing director. Foreign learners tend to overuse the word ‘clerk’ when talking about their job. A clerk is someone who works in an office and who does clerical work such as filing, telephoning, typing etc.
#49 Budapest is the capital of Hungary. The people are Hungarian and speak Hungarian but please, please note that Hungaria (sic.) does NOT exist and it never has….!
#50 Someone who was born in and lives in Madrid is Spanish but he or she is a Spaniard. You CANNOT say that Julio Iglesias is ‘a Spanish’.
#51 In a restaurant the list of dishes that tells you what is available is called the ‘menu’ not the ‘card’ or the ‘menu card’. If there is a separate one for wine and other drinks then you would ask for the ‘wine list’.
#52 The individual things or subjects or issues that you discuss in a meeting are usually known as ‘items’ rather than ‘topics’. The written record of everything that was said at the meeting is known as the ‘minutes of the meeting’. Somebody is always nominated to ‘take the minutes’. The word protocol only describes how you are supposed to behave in certain situations as in ‘diplomatic protocol’.
#53 To join two or more pieces of paper together temporarily you would use a paper clip; to join them more permanently you would use a device known as a stapler to ‘staple’ them together. This has nothing to do with placing them in a pile!
#54 The word ‘sensible’ sometimes causes confusion. If you are sensible you behave in a reasonable manner, you display common sense, you think about what you are doing and don’t do foolish things. Don’t confuse it with ‘sensitive’ which means delicate, easily irritated or easily offended.
#55 In British English we tend to use the word ‘solicitor’ to mean someone you consult if you need legal advice or representation whereas the Americans use the words ‘attorney’ or ‘lawyer’.
#56 A short written message — for example, to your boss — is a ‘note’ not a ‘notice’. A notice is an official sign or written piece of information that is placed in a prominent location where everyone will see (or notice) it. This may be a notice board but it is NOT a blackboard.
#57 Notice can also mean ‘prior warning’. This is the meaning in phrases such as ‘at short notice’; ‘to hand in your notice’ (meaning to resign); ‘to give someone notice’ (meaning to fire someone) or ‘six weeks’ notice’ (meaning the advance warning you have to give your employer –or vice versa — if you wish to leave your present job).
#58 A brief period spent in a company by a student or pupil with the intention of gaining practical work experience is often referred to as a ‘placement’. The Americans also use the word ‘internship’ and we all know who the world’s most famous intern was, don’t we? That’s right, Monika (I worked under the President) Lewinsky!!!
#59 A pre-printed piece of paper that you use to provide information, for example, when applying for a job or buying insurance is a ‘form’, NOT a ‘formula’. A well-known formula is, for example, E=MC².
#60 When asking a question do not say ‘What’s about……..?’ as in ‘What’s about our homework?’ The correct form should be ‘What about our homework?’
#61 Don’t confuse ‘permission’ and ‘allowance’. The word ‘permission’ is an uncountable abstract noun which means authorization to do something. An ‘allowance’ is an amount of something, usually food or money, given at regular intervals (e.g., family allowance that is paid to families by the state); a discount; the part of your monthly income that is not liable for income tax (e.g., single person’s tax allowance); a portion of money that is set aside to compensate for something or to cover special expenses (e.g., travel allowance, meals allowance, accommodation allowance).
#62 If you go to a special place where you can exercise, lift weights, do aerobics etc we usually talk about going to the ‘gym’, not “fitness studio”.
#63 In English we don’t talk about ‘having a birthday’. We say: ‘It is my birthday on …….’. It would be wrong to say ‘his wife has her birthday on 21 December’; you should say: ‘it is his wife’s birthday on 21 December’.
#64 A very common mistake among foreign learners is to say ‘I am born in …….’ or ‘Where are you born?’. This sounds terrible to English ears. Of course you have to say ‘I *was* born in (Leeds)’, and ‘Where *were* you born?’
#65 Working more hours than you usually do (and hopefully getting paid for it) is known as ‘working overtime’.
#66 In English you *do* your job or you *do* a good job; you don’t make it.
#67 It is incorrect to say ‘to make business with someone’; you *do* business with people / companies. However, you can say ‘to make money’.
#68 The verb ‘to drive’ only refers to travelling by car and means to be in control of the car, i.e., with the steering wheel in your hands although it can be used to mean travelling as a car passenger. In English you can *not* say ‘I drive to work by train / bus’ (unless you work for the railway / bus company!!). It is more common to say ‘I travel to work by train / bus’ or ‘I come to work by train / bus’.
#69 You are or you go ‘on’ holiday and not ‘in’ holiday (sic.). Also you watch something ‘on’ TV and not in TV.
#70 Never talk about looking TV / a film / a programme (sic.). We always say to ‘watch’ TV / to watch a film / programme.
#71 When two people decide to become husband and wife the actual ceremony is called a ‘wedding’. In English you wouldn’t say, ‘I am going to a marriage on Saturday’.
#72 You can never be ‘on’ a meeting (sic.) You are ‘at’ or ‘in’ a meeting.
#73 One for the businesspeople among you. If you studied the purely theoretical side of the economy at university then you studied ‘economics’; if you studied the more practical side with other subjects as well then you probably studied ‘business administration’.
#74 A doctor gives you a prescription, which you then take to the chemist’s or pharmacy.
#75 If you need instructions how to cook something then you read a recipe.
#76 Proof that you have paid a bill — often needed to reclaim travel expenses — is called a receipt
#77 Be careful with the word ‘credit’. We use it as an abstract concept in English. We do not say to get ‘a credit’ from the bank in English; we tend to use the word ‘loan’ instead. If your account is ‘in credit’ it means that there is money in your account
#78 Many people seem to confuse the terms UK (United Kingdom), Great Britain and England. The correct way to refer to my native country is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This has 4 constituent parts: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is the ‘main island’ and consists of England, Scotland and Wales. England is only one part of Great Britain. Scots would be very offended (and may even turn violent!) if you referred to them as English!
#79 Don’t forget to write the names of months with capital letters, e.g., January, March, September etc.
#80 Contrary to popular belief it is not absolutely necessary to add the letters ‘st’, ‘nd’, ‘rd’ or ‘th’ when writing dates. It is perfectly correct to write 18 August, 21 September or 4 July.
#81 In English you should not put a comma before the word ‘that’. The following sentence is INCORRECT: ‘He said, that he had enjoyed his stay in Leeds very much’ (sic).
#82 If you want to speak to someone at work and you don’t know the special combination of numbers that makes the phone on their desk ring then you need to first of all ring the *switchboard*. The switchboard operator will then hopefully tell you the person’s *extension*, which is the special combination of numbers that makes the phone on their desk ring!
#83 In English we don’t say to work *by* a company (sic); this is incorrect. We say to work for a company; e.g., she works for Marks & Spencer.
#84 We don’t talk about a parking house (sic) in English; we refer to a multi-storey car park; the other extreme is usually called an or underground garage. The gap on the street between two cars in between which you try to fit your car is usually called a parking space or a place to park; it isn’t idiomatic to refer to a parking place. A large area where you may have to pay to park your car is known as a car park or a parking lot in the United States.
#85 Please note that the word ‘engineer’ is a job description in English and not an academic title. I have had German clients who — to me — are quite obviously telecommunications engineers insisting that they are not engineers because they haven’t got a university degree and don’t have the prefix Dipl.-Ing. before their name. You don’t have to be a Dipl.-Ing. to be an engineer, believe me.
#86 Speaking of academic titles: though the trend is changing on the Continent it is still far less common to use your academic title in the UK than in mainland Europe. In English, Doctors tend to work in hospitals rather than in management and in any case, a doctorate is indicated by the letters Ph.D. after your name rather than the prefix Dr before it.
#87 Another transatlantic difference: in the UK we tend to think in terms of DDMMYYYY when we write dates so 10-08-2001 stands for 10 August 2001. Since the Americans tend to think in terms of MMDDYYYY they would interpret 10-08-2001 as meaning October 8, 2001. Confusion abounds!
#88 We don’t refer to a ‘mother company’ in English; we refer to the ‘parent company’. Similarly, referring to a ‘daughter company’ isn’t idiomatic; we usually use the words subsidiary or affiliate.
#89 One for the German speakers out there…. Be careful with the word ‘undertaker’ since it means someone who arranges funerals and buries bodies. It doesn’t necessarily refer to a businessman.
#90 Don’t confuse the terms wedding day and wedding anniversary. The actual day on which you get married is your wedding day; the same date in subsequent years is your wedding anniversary.
#91 In English you comment ON something. It is incorrect to say ‘to comment something’.
#92 In English you discriminate AGAINST someone. It is incorrect to say, for example, to discriminate foreigners / women (sic.). The correct version would be to discriminate against foreigners / women.
#93 Many businesspeople use the word turnover meaning ‘total revenue derived from the provision of goods and services less trade discounts, VAT and other taxes based on this revenue’ (UK Companies Act 1985). Please note, however, that the stress falls on the first syllable. It is TURNover not turnOVER!
#94 In English you can never say ‘to cook coffee’; you *make* coffee. On a similar note, you *boil* water not cook it. And you don’t cook cakes either, you bake them. You only cook food!
#95 Of course you can cook the books, which means to manipulate accounts in a company and is fraudulent.
#96 The final line of a joke, which usually contains all the humour, is called the punchline, not the point.
#97 Many people end business letters with the phrasal verb ‘to look forward to’. Please remember that if you do so then you have to put any following verb in the gerund (i.e., ending in -ing) because the complete phrasal verb is ‘to look forward to doing something’. It is WRONG to write ‘I look forward to hear from you’ or ‘ I am looking forward to hear from you’ (sic.). You have to write ‘I look / am looking forward to hearING from you’
#98 In English there is no such word as ‘loyality’ (sic.). The word is ‘loyalty’ — without an ‘i’.
#99 If you have an ‘unfilled position’ in your office, department or company then we usually use the word ‘vacancy’ in English. For example, ‘we have a vacancy for a secretary in our department’.
#100 In English it is not usual to say ‘Congratulations’ when it is somebody’s birthday. You would normally wish them ‘Happy Birthday’. Save the word ‘congratulations’ for occasions like getting married, being promoted or having a baby.
#101 When using the word comment make sure you stress the first syllable, as in ‘COMMent’. It is incorrect to pronounce it ‘coMMENT’.
#102 Equipment is an uncountable noun so it can never take an ‘s’. You can never talk about ‘office equipments’ or telephone equipments (sic.). Nor can you say ‘one equipment’!
#103 If your boss or your colleagues is/are deliberately making life hard for you at work then we don’t use the word ‘mobbing’ in English. The correct term is ‘bullying’
#104 The word ‘personell’ (sic.) doesn’t exist: the correct spelling is ‘personnel’ with double ‘n’ and only one ‘l’.
#105 Most people know the word inflation but do you know where it comes from? The verb ‘to inflate’ means to fill with air. Thus you can have inflatable tyres, chairs, mattresses, dinghies and even dolls (!). Also someone can have an ‘over-inflated’ opinion of him or herself. The opposite is ‘to deflate’.
#106 A place where grapes are grown and wine is made and sold is called a vineyard in English, not a wine garden. The owner is called a vintner
#107 The Americans might call it an apartment but in the UK a flat. You can also have a flatmate (roommate in the USA), i.e. someone who shares the flat with you. By the way, the word apartment doesn’t imply that there is only one room as it may do in other languages
#108 The abbreviation for the word ‘number’ in English is not Nr., it is No.
#109 The container for your waste / trash / garbage / rubbish outside your house or flat is called a dustbin in the UK and a trashcan or garbage can in the USA.
#110 The part of the telephone that you hold in your hand and press to your ear can be called the receiver or the handset
#111 In English we often use the word ‘industry’ to mean a sector of the economy or a field in which you work. Hence we refer to the tourist industry or the service industry. It is not really correct to use the word ‘branch’ here.
#112 You all use the word laptop but do you know where the name comes from? Your lap is ‘the area formed by the upper surface of the thighs of a seated person’. Hence a laptop is a computer you use on your lap!
#113 A common misconception among foreign learners is that you can make your language more polite by using the phrase ‘be so kind to …..’. This is a little old-fashioned these days and is, in any case, incorrect. The correct structure would be: ‘be so kind *as* to …..’
#114 The Americans use the abbreviation ‘math’ for the school subject mathematics; this side of the Pond (i.e. the Atlantic) we add an ‘s’ and talk about ‘maths’.
#115 Especially in the UK we use the word ‘chemist’s’ to mean a shop where you can get medicine, toiletries, personal hygiene articles, healthcare products etc. In America this is called a ‘pharmacy’ and the person is a ‘pharmacist’.
#116 The three pedals in your car are the accelerator, the brake and the clutch.
#117 Don’t confuse to remind and to remember. To remind someone means (a) to help them NOT to forget, e.g., remind me to lock the door or (b) to make a person think of someone else because you look or act similar to that person, e.g., you remind me of my brother. And please note that the correct preposition is OF! To remember is the opposite of to forget. .
#118 Don’t forget the ‘s’ at the end when you talk about 18 months. We say ‘one and a half years’ not one and a half year (sic.)
#119 The two main people involved in a wedding are the bride (the lady getting married) and the bridegroom (the man), sometimes just called the groom.
#120 The party / formal meal after a wedding is usually called the (wedding) reception.
#121 If you don’t get married in church then you get married in a civil ceremony.
#122 It is wrong to exclaim ‘it depends on!’ (sic.). In English we just say ‘it depends!’ or we say that ‘it depends on SOMETHING’, e.g, ‘it depends on the weather’.
#123 Americans use the word ‘check’ when we Brits would use the word ‘bill’. In a restaurant I would ask for the bill but an American would ask the waiter for the check.
#124 In British English paper money comes in the form of notes, e.g, a five-pound note. In America they refer to bills as in a dollar bill.
#125 At school or university your teachers / professors give you marks or grades — such as A, B-, 1, 3, etc. — to tell you how well you have performed, they do NOT give you notes (sic.)!
#126 A figure such as a percentage is singular in English, e.g., 50% of sales IS …. and NOT 50% of sales are ….
#127 The amount of money in your bank account is known as your (bank) balance. A print out showing your balance is known as your (bank) statement.
#128 Another word for very important is ‘crucial’ or ‘vital’.
#129 n English we don’t really use the word ‘wellness’ (sic.). We tend to talk about well-being, health, etc. I have never seen an advert for a ‘wellness weekend’ in original English advertising or hotel brochures. A place where you go for a weekend of relaxation, therapy, pampering etc is often called a spa.
#130 Do not say ‘by my own’, as in ‘I did it by my own’ (sic). In English we say *on* my own or *by* myself.
#131 Be warned! The word ‘backside’ is a slightly old-fashioned word for bottom, rear, posterior, bum, ass (in British English: arse) or whatever you want to call the part of your body on which you sit. Do not refer to the backside (sic.) of a cheque, form, letter etc, refer to the back or the reverse. (Thanks to Martin Tobutt at Tecis in Hamburg who reminded me of this one!)
#132 The document you submit with an application detailing your career history, education, personal information etc is known as a CV (curriculum vitae) in British English and a resumé in American English.
#133 In America it is considered very impolite to use the word ‘toilet’, which is why you will see signs for, and hear people asking for, the bathroom, the restroom, the washroom etc.
#134 In American English the word ‘subway’ means the underground transport system. In London this is known as the underground or just ‘the tube’.
#135 In the UK water comes out of a tap in the kitchen or the bathroom, in the USA it comes out of a faucet.
#136 It is not correct to say ‘we meet us’ (sic.) Forget the ‘us’ and say things like ‘we meet every Wednesday’ or ‘let’s meet at six’. .)
#137 The phrase ‘for good’ means forever as in ‘Has he left for good?’. This explains the Take That song lyric (remember them, before Robbie made it big!) ‘Back For Good’.
#138 Before people get married they often have a party celebrating their last night as single people. For the men this called a ‘bachelor party’ and, because note that it is a separate party, the ladies go to a ‘bachelorette party’.
#139 A road is divided into lanes – not lines- (think of the Eagles song ‘Life in the Fast Lane’).
#140 A stand-alone house (lived in by one family) is called a detached house.
#141 Some houses are split into two parts with one family living in each half. In this case each half is known as a semi-detached house or duplex.
#142 Typically English — long rows of houses that all look alike (à la Coronation Street: the famous English soap opera!) These are known as terrace houses in the UK and in the US ‘row houses’.
#143 We often use the phrase ‘runner-up’ to describe someone who comes second. We wouldn’t say ‘vice-champion’ (sic.) for example.
#144 Even the great Michael Schumacher got this one wrong recently. We don’t say ‘Thanks God!’ (sic.), we say ‘Thank God!’
#145 Be careful with the word ‘firework’; it refers to one single rocket, not to a 30-minute show. Don’t say ‘There was a fantastic firework after the concert’ (sic.). You should say ‘there was a fantastic firework *display* after the concert’ or ‘there *were* fantastic fireworks (with an ‘s’) after the concert’
#146 One for meetings: Try not to say ‘I think that’s not correct’. This is being very direct and placing your own opinion far higher than the statement made by the other person. It would be better to negate your own statement and say ‘I don’t think that’s correct’ or soften your statement even more and say ‘I’m not sure that’s correct’.
#147 A rather confusing word is ‘fine’. As a noun it means a financial penalty: money you have to pay because you have committed an offence such as a parking fine or a speeding fine.
#148 Someone who mends water pipes, central heating, bathroom fittings etc is called a plumber (the word comes from the French word for the metal lead — ‘plomb’)
#149 On New Year’s Eve some people vow to change certain (negative) aspects of their behaviour, give up bad habits etc. This is known as making New Year’s Resolutions
#150 In English, 31 December is known as New Year’s Eve; 1 January is known as New Year’s Day.
#151 Christmas religious songs such as ‘Silent Night’, ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ and ‘Good King Wenceslas’ are called Christmas carols in English. We also have carol singers who come around to your house and sing (carols) for you — in exchange for money of course!!
#152 If you live in a very remote area we often say you live ‘in the sticks’ or ‘in the middle of nowhere’. The Americans also say ‘out in the boondocks’ or ‘in the boonies’.
#153 The device that ‘counts’ your consumption of something such as gas, water, electricity or internet usage is called the meter. Usually someone will call once a year to ‘read the meter’. Likewise in a taxi the fare you have to pay is displayed on the meter.
#154 In English the word ‘address’ has two ‘d’s; watch out!
#155 Be careful with the verb to overhear; it means to hear something by chance, e.g. “I overheard an interesting piece of gossip in the canteen”. German speakers should not confuse it with the German verb überhören, which would be translated as ‘to not hear’, e.g., I didn’t hear my alarm (or I slept through my alarm). If you mean überhören in the sense of deliberately not hearing then you could use to ignore, e.g. ‘I heard what you said but I ignored it’ (or ….. I chose to ignore it).
#156 A similar false friend is ‘to overlook’, meaning to not notice, e.g. “I overlooked the fact that we had a meeting”. However, the noun is an oversight, e.g. “It was an oversight on my part”. However, the Americans do use the word oversight to mean an overview since I have seen the phrase corporate oversight meaning corporate governance To oversee is used in the sense of having an overview of something as in “He oversees the marketing department” or “He oversaw the restructuring of the company”. .
#157 Another word for holiday (from work) is leave as in ’30 days annual leave’; ‘he is on leave’. It is also used in the phrase ‘maternity leave’ meaning the time when a woman has time off work before and after having a baby.
#158 You might know it as an SMS but the popular mobile phone feature is more usually known as a text message in English. We often use the verb ‘to text’ meaning to send a text message (or a txtmsg!). For example, ‘I texted you last week but you didn’t answer’.
#159 In English you don’t make an exam (sic.) You take, sit or do an exam.
#160 To pass an exam implies success; it doesn’t mean simply to take the exam.
#161 In the morning you get up, you don’t stand up. For example, I get up at six o’clock (thanks to Christina Prasch for reminding me of this common mistake).
#162 Did you know that another way to say ‘frightened of….’ is ‘scared of…..’ as in ‘I’m scared of the dark’ Likewise, something that is frightening can also be described as ‘scary’