Common mistakes… (10)

Tenpura is Latin!?

Did you know that the word tenpura (てんぷら or 天ぷら) originally came from Latin?

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I didn’t. Wiktionary explains how it came from Portuguese and, ultimately, Latin.

What about arubaito (アルバイト)? Did you know that it originated from the German word arbeit (which means work/job)?

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You knew that one? Well done, if you did.

It raises the issue, though, that ‘loanwords’ (Gairaigo or 外来語) in Japanese may not come from the language you think they come from.

A couple of good examples are ankēto (アンケート) and maron (マロン). Over the years many of my students have used these words believing they were English.

    

They aren’t, though. They are, in fact, French.

    

‘Ankēto’ comes from enquête and ‘maron’ from marron.

So, how do we say them in English?

Ankēto is survey or questionnaire.

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A: Do you like filling in questionnaires?  B: No, I don’t.  I find them boring.

Marron is chestnut.

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Mmm…I love the smell of roasting chestnuts.

The online Cambridge Dictionary lists four definitions for the noun chestnut:

(i) a large tree with leaves divided into five parts and large, round nuts;

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(ii) a large, brown, edible nut from a sweet chestnut tree;

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(iii) a reddish-brown horse; and

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The horse on the left is a chestnut and the other one is a grey.

(iv) a reddish-brown colour.

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Uluru changes colour in different light and sometimes it’s a deep chestnut.

So, I think ‘chestnut’ is quite a useful word to remember.

It’s also good to remember that not all loanwords in Japanese come from English and people may not understand you if you use them.

 

If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.

Common mistakes… (9)

He’s got a nice tongue!?

That may not be what you want to say, but if you use Katakana pronunciation that’s kind of what you are saying.

In Katakana, tongue and tan are written and pronounced the same way:

タン

 It’s important to note, though, that neither of these words are pronounced タン in English.

Tongue is pronounced /tʌŋ/. The first two sounds /tʌ/ are the same as in tough /tʌf/ and the final sound /ŋ/ is also found at the end of ring /rɪŋ/.

The dog above has a pink tongue, but the one below has a purple/bluish-black one.

 

Tan, on the other hand, is pronounced quite differently: /tæn/

The middle sound /æ/ is pronounced the same as ‘a’ in cat /kæt/. This sound is not used in Japanese, so it can be a tricky one to pronounce correctly at first.

Their feet are tanned in a funny way.

As mentioned in Common Mistakes… (7) using Katakana pronunciation can make it more difficult to be understood.  So, take care of how you pronounce ‘tan’ and ‘tongue’, so that you don’t get strange looks.

 

If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.

Common mistakes… (8)

Marriage/Married.

“He’s marriage.”

“We’ve been enjoying marriage life for five years.”

“They’re a marriage couple.”

Which one of these sentences is correct?

If you said ‘none’, you’re absolutely right!

‘Marriage’ is a noun.  Another noun is ‘Australia’. If I said…

“I’m Australia.”   

…you would probably look at me quite strangely!

When we change the noun to an adjective, though, it makes a lot more sense:

“I’m Australian.”  

So, we need to change the word ‘marriage’ to an adjective, married.  This seems quite simple, but it’s still a commonly-made mistake.

Now, let’s go back and correct those sentences at the start of the post.

“He’s married.”  

“We’ve been enjoying married life for five years.”  

“They’re a married couple.”  

To use the noun, marriage, we could say something like:

“They have an unhappy marriage.”

or

“I believe in marriage equality.”

Finally, it’s also very natural to use the get passive (i.e. ‘get married’), especially in spoken English, but it’s important to use it correctly.  I’ve heard many students say, “We got marriage…”.  This is incorrect.  The right way to say it is:

“We got married…”

If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.

Common mistakes… (7)

‘Croquette’ anyone?

First things first. What is a croquette?

Well, it’s ‘a small, rounded mass of food, such as meat, fish, or potato, that has been cut into small pieces, pressed together, covered in breadcrumbs and fried’ (Cambridge Dictionary).

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Look at all of those croquettes!

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Now, how is it pronounced in English?

The British pronunciation is​ /krəˈket/. It has two syllables and the stress is placed on the second one. The first syllable includes schwa /ə/ which is a weak sound and, therefore, not emphasised.

The American pronunciation /kroʊˈket/ differs to the British one in that the first syllable is pronounced /oʊ/ with a rounded mouth as in  ‘Oh, no, I’ve got to go!’

Croquette is written as コロッケ in Katakana which means it has two more syllables than in English. Those extra syllables can cause confusion and make it difficult for others to understand you.

In addition, the Katakana pronunciation of croquette sounds a lot like ‘croquet’ which means something completely different!

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So, to help improve your English pronunciation, try to avoid using Katakana as much as possible.

 

If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.

Common mistakes… (6)

High fever!

I have often heard students say, “My child has a high fever” and my first reaction is one of great concern.

A fever is a medical condition in which the body temperature is higher than usual and the heart beats very fast (Cambridge Dictionary).

     

However, a high fever (about 41.5°C or more) is extremely dangerous and could trigger convulsions (Better Health).

So, if your child’s temperature is one or two degrees higher than usual, how can you say this without causing alarm?

You might say:

My child has a fever.

or

My child has a slight fever.

However, it is very common to not use the word ‘fever’ at all (especially in British and Australian English).

Some common ways to say this include:

“Her temperature’s a bit high.”

He has a (very) high temperature.

I’ve got a bit of a temperature.

Be careful not to misuse the term ‘high fever’ as this may lead to misunderstandings.

 

If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.

Common mistakes… (5)

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 “She’s smart.”

What does this sentence actually mean?  Is it referring to a person’s intelligence

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…or his/her body shape and size?

 

In the past, my Japanese students often used the word ‘smart’ to describe a slim or slender person.

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This confused me because ‘smart’ doesn’t have that meaning in English.

If you check the Cambridge dictionary, smart has a few different definitions.

It can be used as an adjective to mean:

  • stylish (mainly UK) – He’s looking very smart for his interview.

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  • intelligent (mainly US) – She’s very smart for her age.

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  • [before noun] done quickly with a lot of force or effort – He’s going to have to move at a smart pace to make it to work on time.

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  • working by computer – More people will be living in smart homes in the future.

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  • without respect (mainly US) – Don’t get smart with me, young lady!

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It can also be used as a verb to mean:

  • to hurt with a sharp pain – His eyes were smarting from cutting the onion.

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  • to feel upset and angry because of failure or criticism – The young employee was still smarting from getting scolded by her boss.

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So, just remember, when talking about someone’s figure, use ‘slim’ or ‘slender’ instead of ‘smart’ and people will understand exactly what you mean.

 

If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.

Common mistakes… (4)

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Running or runny?

I’ve got a running nose.

or

 I’ve got a runny nose.

 

Which one is correct?  Or are they both right?

Running /ˈrʌn.ɪŋ/ and runny /ˈrʌn.i/ sound very similar, but only one is considered correct and natural when using English.  Do you know which one it is?

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It is ‘runny’.

When your nose is producing more mucus than usual, you can say:

“I’ve got a runny nose.”

You can also say:

“My nose is running.”

 

Either of these sentences is natural for native English speakers to say.

Unfortunately, it is not usual to say “I’ve got a running nose” and the mental image it creates is one in which your nose has jumped off your face…and is running away!

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If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.

 

Common mistakes… (3)

 

Muffler or scarf?

What is a muffler and how should we use it?  The Cambridge Dictionary explains that, in American and Australian English, it is a part of a vehicle that reduces noise from a car engine.  In the U.K., this is more commonly known as a silencer.

 

 

 

So, are you wrong to think a muffler is a thick scarf?  No, not wrong, but it is an old-fashioned word and scarf is usually used instead.

Scarf a strip, square, or triangle of cloth, worn around the neck, head, or shoulders to keep you warm or to make you look attractive.

It can be thick and woolly…

…or soft and silky.

 

 

The verb muffle means to make a sound quieter and less clear:

If a dog gets scared by loud noises like fireworks or thunder, you could try to ‘muffle’ the sounds by wrapping a thick scarf around its ears.

If your ears are blocked because of wax build up or perhaps you went to a loud concert the night before, you might notice that sounds are ‘muffled’.

So, unless you’re having car trouble in the U.S.A. or Australia, replace muffler with scarf and your English will sound more up to date:

“I’d like to buy a muffler scarf.”

 

If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.

Common mistakes… (2)

 

What are your hips?

‘Hip’ has a few different definitions.  The Cambridge Dictionary lists the first one as:

noun (body part)the area below the waist and above the legs at either side of the body, or the joint that connects the leg to the upper part of the body.  

This little fellow has got his hands on his hips.

Hip, Gut, Poor, High, Finger, Positive

Other definitions of ‘hip’ include:

adjective – fashionable:  She looks very hip in that outfit.

exclamationan expression that is called out, often by a group of people at the same time, to express approval of someone:

Three cheers for the birthday boy!  Hip,  hip, hooray!  Hip, hip, hooray!  Hip, hip, hooray!

So, what do you call the area of the body we sit on?  Good question!

It has many different names, but one of the most common (and polite, in my opinion) is ‘bottom’.

He has a present on his bottom!

Some other common terms for bottom include:

  • buttocks
  • behind (informal)
  • bum (mainly UK, informal)
  • rear end
  • rump
  • backside
  • seat
  • derrière (a French word, but also used in English)
  • arse (vulgar slang – mainly UK)
  • ass (vulgar slang – mainly US)

…and there are many, many more!

 

If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.

Common mistakes… (1)

The following two words are often mixed up when using written English: message and massage.
Although these words may look similar, they have very different meanings.  The Cambridge Dictionary defines these words as follows:
message /ˈmes.ɪdʒ/ – a short piece of information that you give to a person when you cannot speak to them directly.
massage /ˈmæs.ɑːʒ/ – to rub and press someone’s body with regular repeated movements, in order to relax them or to reduce stiffness or pain in the joints (which are places where two bones are connected) or muscles.
 

So, unless you’re corresponding with your massage therapist, be careful not to write, ‘Thanks for your massage’ as the other person might be surprised!

 

If this post has been helpful, you might consider studying with S. and L. English Lessons.  Get in contact today to organise a trial lesson and let’s continue the conversation.