A ‘false friend’ is a word which looks similar to a word in another language but in fact means something different. Some of my students mix these words up (and I do too in Czech) so today let’s look at a few of them in more detail.
actual and aktuálně
Students sometimes confuse actual with present or current.
Actual in English is used for emphasising what the true or real situation really is:
We don’t know the actual number of people involved yet.
They thought their product was better but the actual number of sales was lower compared with their competitors.
If you’re talking about something happening now, use present or current:
Can you tell me about the present situation in your country?
I noticed on Czech news sites that this term is used:
Aktuální kurzy in English may not be perfectly translated. For example, I’d ask for the current market price of something. You can also mention the present stock market situation or stock market latest. Or what’s happening now on the stock exchange/markets?
Aktuální translates to current, present, topical, up-to-date.
Actual translates as skutečný, současný, or opravdový.
The final combination of words you choose here will depend on the right collocation you’re looking for.
chef and šéf
Chef is the person who cooks in a restaurant, or someone who is well-regarded as a cook.
So chef = kuchař
And šéf = boss
eg I have a great boss. She pays me on time and is always polite and courteous.
Šéf is not the same as chief. Chief in English can refer to the chief executive officer of a corporation or to the main person in charge of a tribe. Chief can also be used to talk about high-powered people in diplomacy or the military.
eg Foreign intelligence chiefs.
kitchen and kuchyně
Still on the topic of food, kitchen in English is the room where you eat and cook at home. But when we talk about the food of a particular nationality, we use the word cuisine, NOT kuchyně.
eg I just love Italian cuisine.
- Other words with cuisine include:
Let’s eat out tonight and try the local cuisine.
They serve such excellent cuisine.
And on this note, I should mention that cuisine is not the same word as the son or daughter of your uncle. The word for this person is cousin.
control and kontrol
The word control in English means ‘to have power over something or someone.’ It can be a verb or noun.
eg The TV station was controlled by the main political party in opposition.
eg He was in control of the situation.
eg He lost control of the plane before they crashed.
The Czech kontrolovat or kontrola usually translates in English to check:
Could you please check that everyone has left the building?
I checked to make sure that all the information was correct.
Other words are also used instead of kontrola:
The ticket inspectors were operating at Můstek metro station today. (NOT ticket control)
The inspector checked the ticket.
We had a tax inspection last year.
John, you look a little pale – maybe you should go to the doctor’s for a check up.
They were worried about a tax audit.
- Worth remembering – common collocations with control include:
It’s outside my control, sorry.
General Smith took control of the southern city of Brno.
The town is now under American control.
Some of the poor feel that they don’t have real control over their lives.
He lost control of himself when he heard what his son had done.
Don’t worry Pierce, everything’s under control.
If we don’t do something now, the situation will get out of control.
document and dokument
A document is a piece of paper (or file on your computer) which is used for official or more formal reasons.
eg Please bring all the necessary documents to the interview this Friday.
A documentary is a programme on television which shows real events and people in real life
So the Czech word which has a similar meaning to doklad is dokument, and it is document in English. But the programme on TV (televizni dokument) is called a documentary in English:
eg I saw a fascinating documentary last night about Vaclav Havel.
gymnasium and gymnázium
In English, a gymnasium is a large indoor hall where you do sport and exercise. At school for example we had a gymnasium where we did gymnastics as part of our physical education classes.
The Czech gymnázium is grammar school, secondary school, or high school in English.
If you pay money at a place where you do sport and exercise indoors in your free time, we usually shorten it to gym (fitness centre).
sympathetic and sympatický
A sympathetic person is someone who you feel understands you and how you feel, often when the situation is not that good.
eg My boss was sympathetic when my dog died and he gave the day off work.
The Czech word for sympathetic is soucitný.
If you’re looking for English lessons in Prague please feel free to contact me today.