How can Mike help you?
  Language Tests
Useful Links
Materials to download
  Tips & Tricks
  Visitors Book
  Backstage Pass
Tips & Tricks - "1000 things you never knew about the English language."

#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 Anglo-Saxon counterparts 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 whatsoever to do with mobile phones.

#5. Being an abstract concept 'information' is an uncountable noun. Hence the oft-heard words: 'I need three informations' are NOT correct. You should say: 'I need some information' or 'I need three bits (or pieces) of information'.

#6. One for the stockbrokers out there: there is a verb 'to go public' in English meaning 'to float' or 'to be listed on the stock market for the first time' but there is NO corresponding noun. You should refer to the 'flotation' of a company or the 'IPO' (initial public offering).

#7. In English you begin the body of a letter or an email with a capital letter even though you have followed your salutation (e.g., Dear Mrs Ing) with a comma. This is WRONG: 'Dear Mrs Ing, thank you for your letter dated.... etc.' The word 'Thank' should be capitalised.

#8. When describing figures and trends many foreign learners often confuse 'to raise' (transitive) and 'to rise' (intransitive) . If you use 'to increase', which can be used in both senses, you will avoid the mistake.

#9. 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.

#10 In English politicians, filmstars and other famous people are sometimes known as VIPs. However we do NOT make the abbreviation into a word [i.e., 'VIPP's] we say the three letters separately, i.e., [Vee Eye Pee]. See also Tip #189

#11 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 in the future but you don't know when. It does not express the mere possibility of, or uncertainty about, an event happening!

#12 In English the corporate telephone number you call because you have a problem or you want to make an inquiry is often called a 'helpline', not a hotline

#13 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'.

#14 In English December 24th is known as Christmas Eve, December 25th as Christmas Day and December 26th as Boxing Day.

#15 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.

#16 When talking about your age it is not necessary to add the words '... years of age'. So 'I am 40' is enough and sounds perfectly correct. 'I am 40 years' is WRONG!

#17 It is very old-fashioned nowadays to say "it's raining cats & dogs". 'It's pouring (down)' or 'it's throwing it down' are more common.

#18 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 2007 and 2008 by 10% and 15% respectively. Please note too that the word is placed at the end of the sentence.

#19 The abbreviation i.e., means 'that is' and comes from the Latin 'id est'. It does NOT mean 'in example'!

#20 Though the distinction is fading somewhat these days there are rules to apply when beginning and ending a business letter. If you address the person by name, e.g., 'Dear Mr Cassidy' you should end the letter with 'Yours sincerely'. If you do not know the addressee's name and write 'Dear Sir/Madam' you should end with 'Yours faithfully'.

#21 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.

#22 If you go to the cinema and you find Julia Roberts speaking French to Richard Gere, Meg Ryan faking an orgasm in Katz' Deli in New York in German or Sean Connery introducing himself as Bond, James Bond in Punjabi then the film has been 'dubbed' not synchronised into the respective foreign language. (See also Tip #334)
However, spies and secret agents do talk about "synchronising their watches" to ensure that they both say the same time and of course we do have the synchronised swimmers with the fixed smiles!

#23 Be careful with the word 'holding'. A holding company is an organisation or corporation which has holdings in various other companies or organisations. The 'holding' is the stake the company has, not the actual company.

#24 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!

#25 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...'.

#26 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'.

#27 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'.

#28 Though it isn't strictly speaking wrong, we don't really use the words 'half a year' in English, as in "I spent half a year in Mons in Belgium". We would be more likely to say "I spent six months in Mons in Belgium".

#29 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.

#30 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', 'benevolent 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'.

#31 No points in tennis is known as 'love'. No points in football (by which I really mean football not the American version!) is known as 'nil'. In phone numbers, hotel room numbers, bus and tram numbers etc. we often say 'oh' as in 007 [double oh seven] or 0228 [oh double two eight]. Before a decimal point you might often hear the word 'nought' [pronounced nort] as in 0.5 [nought point five]. However, after the decimal point, as in 0.07 we would use 'oh'. So 0.071 would be 'nought point oh seven one'.
Zero is also possible though I feel it is more American. However, we do use it to talk about 0 degrees temperature and in mathematics.

#32 Try to avoid saying 'I want...'. (Polite) little Brits are taught: 'I want never gets'. Use 'I would like...' instead. It sounds politer.

#33 In English you HAVE an experience, you don't make an experience.

#34 I hear lots of non-native clients / learners say: 'it is self-evident that....' It is more idiomatic to say: 'it stands to reason that....' or 'it goes without saying that....'

#35 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'.

#36 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.

#37 Don't confuse the verb 'to start' with 'to leave' or 'to set off'. The verb 'to start' means 'to begin', e.g., the meeting starts at three o'clock. If you are talking about leaving home or the office to go elsewhere or to go on holiday, for example then it would be more correct to use 'to set off' or 'to leave'. Examples are: "We want to set off in the middle of the night to avoid the traffic", "I am just leaving for the stadium", "I'm leaving for England on Sunday".

#38 The word 'incentive' doesn't only refer to money. The Collins English Dictionary defines it as 'a motivating influence or a stimulus'. Don't forget that there is an antonym too: a disincentive, i.e., something that acts as a deterrent

#39 It is more correct to say "not as ...... as" than "not so ..... as". For example, "Leeds is not as big as London".

#40 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.

#41 In British English many government 'ministries' are actually known as Departments, e.g., the Department of Health, the Department for Education and Employment etc. Exceptions are the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Ministry of Defence. The most important person in the respective Department (i.e. the Cabinet Member and Government Minister) is often known as the 'Secretary of State for...', which might be confusing for some readers. Other exceptions are the Home Office (run by the Home Secretary), the Foreign Office (run by the Foreign Secretary) and the Treasury (run by the Chancellor of the Exchequer).

#42 The main London stock market index is the FTSE -- commonly known as the 'Footsie'. This was probably originally an in-joke among stockbrokers revolving around the phrase 'to play footsie' meaning flirtation involving the touching of feet, knees etc, usually out of sight of other people. Let's face it, stockbroking was a pretty boring job so they needed all the thrills they could get!!

#43 If in a financial context you come across a reference to 'The City' this refers to the City of London, which is the so-called Square Mile containing banks, exchanges and other financial institutions. It does not refer to the whole of London. It is used in a figurative sense to mean the world of finance, the markets etc. The American equivalent would be 'Wall Street'.

#44 The very heart of a city is usually known as the 'city centre', rather than just the 'city' as is the case in some languages that have 'borrowed' the English word! Americans use the phrase 'downtown', which sounds unusual to English ears when applied to an English town or city. Save it for the States!

#45 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.

#46 The religious festival commemorating the Resurrection of Christ is called Easter. There is no 'N' at the end!! The Friday before Easter is called Good Friday. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the oft-heard exclamation, "Good, I've now got four days off"!

#47 Newspapers such as The Sun, Bildzeitung, News of the World etc are usually known as the tabloid press or the tabloids. The word actually refers to the size of the paper: 12 inches by 16 inches (30 by 40 cm) and has since come to mean any form of sensationalist journalism. Contrary to popular belief (hello Germany!) it is not common to refer to the 'yellow press'. A more negative designation is the 'gutter press'. At the other end of the scale we talk about the 'broadsheets', whose name is fairly self-explanatory. If not, try reading one on a crowded underground and you'll see why!

#48 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.

#49 [Mike] The word Mike is in square brackets. {Seymour} The word Seymour is in curly brackets. However, in American English these punctuation marks [] are known as 'brackets' whereas these {} are known as braces. Finally, in British English we would call these marks () brackets whereas the Americans would call them parentheses. Confused? You're not the only one!

#50 In (British) 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. British pragmatism at its best!

#51 The word 'nearby' does not mean the same as 'near'. Nearby cannot be used as a preposition. Hence you CANNOT say 'my flat is nearby the station'; you should say 'my flat is near the station'. However you can use 'nearby' as an adjective or an adverb. For example, 'I work in a nearby town'; 'Is there a bank nearby?' Also the words 'in the near of...' as in 'Rothwell is in the near of Leeds' are WRONG!

#52 In correct British English the verb 'to administrate' doesn't exist; the correct verb is 'to administer'.

#53 Remember that the verb which expresses compulsion or 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.

#54 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'.

#55 Before you go to the cinema or theatre and you consult a newspaper or magazine to find out someone else's opinion of the film or play then you read the review. The person who writes his/her opinion professionally is a critic.

#56 In English you order a Gin AND Tonic not just a Gin Tonic.

#57 German executives please note: if you insist on peppering your language with Anglicisms make sure you use them correctly. The financial abbreviation ROI stands for 'return on investment' NOT 'return on invest'!!!

#58 In English we talk about 'having a baby' not 'getting a baby'. For example, 'She has just had a baby'

#59 A calendar usually hangs on the wall and contains lots of pretty pictures and an agenda is a list of points to be discussed in a meeting! You make your appointments in a diary, a desk diary or an organiser. And while we're on the subject, note that I used the word appointment. A date -- which is more American than British English -- is used to describe a rendezvous you have outside work, usually with a member of the opposite sex. Only use the word date in a business context if you mean the actual date, e.g., 18 August. Otherwise use the word appointment.

#60 The verb 'to discuss' means to talk about. Hence it is tautologous to say 'to discuss about'. This is like saying 'to talk about about'!!!!

#61 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.

#62 In English you give a presentation, a speech or a talk. You don't 'hold' one. And the verb is 'to present' not 'to presentate' (sic.)

#63 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.

#64 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.

#65 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.

#66 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. Remember, too, that a chef only works in the kitchen not in an office; he isn't your superior or your boss!

#67 Talking about your education is always difficult because the school systems in other countries often differ from those in the UK or USA. Nowadays in the UK most pupils from 11 onwards go to a secondary school, which can be a comprehensive or a grammar school (Unless the grammar school is a fee-paying, independent school the difference is in the name alone). However, it would cause much mirth if you said that you went to a gymnasium as this is a place where you do gymnastics, i.e. keep-fit, aerobics, weight-training etc.

#68 In English the word 'kitchen' *only* refers to the room where you cook and prepare food. Foreign learners have asked me in the past whether 'the English kitchen is as bad as its reputation!' When you mean the food you should use the words 'English cooking', 'English cuisine' (Yes we do use the odd French word!) or just 'English food'.

#69 Many learners and clients get confused when it comes to the correct time to use Miss, Mrs or Ms. when addressing a female. Let me begin by exploding a myth: in English the word 'Miss' isn't derogatory, demeaning or insulting. It is one -- perfectly acceptable -- way of addressing a single female, whether she be 8 or 80. It is not as impolite as, say, 'Fräulein' in German. If you address someone as 'Mrs' -- let's say Mrs Doubtfire -- you are assuming that she is married and that there is a corresponding Mr Doubtfire. To deal with accusations of sexism and inequality between male and female forms of address, i.e. that you could tell a woman's marital status purely by her name, the abbreviation/neologism 'Ms.' was coined in 1952 by the American National Office Management Association. Originally the Association's suggestion was to use Ms. for all women but this met with much resistance so it revised its recommendation a few months later to state: 'Use the abbreviation Ms. if not sure whether to use Mrs. or Miss'. (Never let it be said that I am not a mine of useless information!)

#70 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 idiomatic to refer to a 'free day'.

#71 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.

#72 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?'

#73 When talking about your studies you can use the verb 'to graduate', which means to successfully complete a course of study. For example, I graduated from Oxford in 1975. And while we are on the subject the academic qualification (and piece of paper) you are awarded is usually known as a degree rather than a diploma. The latter tends to be used for vocational or practical courses.

#74 A nightmare for translators. Some years ago all institutes of higher education in the UK were given permission to describe themselves as universities. Thus every kind of institute of higher education, Fachhochschule, Ecole Polytechnique, Polytechnic etc., is now called a university.

#75 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.

#76 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.

#77 Please note that in English we spell the Eastern European country Romania with an 'o', not with a 'u'.

#78 Someone who was born in and lives in Madrid is Spanish but he or she is a Spaniard. You CANNOT say that Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez is 'a Spanish'.

#79 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'.

# 80 In English you are good / bad AT (doing) something not 'good / bad in something'. For example, he is good at French, he is bad at football.

#81 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'.

#82 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!

#83 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.

#84 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'.

As a rule of thumb, the term 'lawyer' is a general word for someone who has professional training in legal work or who is an expert in the law. In American English, 'attorney' is often preferred, especially in legal or official language and especially to refer to a lawyer who represents people in court.
We don't usually use the term 'attorney' in the UK except in the case of the so-called Attorney General, who is a government official and is the most senior lawyer in the country.
In the UK there is a difference between a 'solicitor', who gives legal advice and prepares legal documents when property is bought or sold (known as conveyancing) and defends people in lower courts, and a 'barrister' or QC (Queen’s Counsel), who represents people in the higher courts of law.
In both the UK and the US, the word 'counsel' is used to mean the lawyer or group of lawyers representing someone in court.
In Scotland, but not in England, the word 'advocate' is used for a lawyer who speaks in a court of law.
Finally on this subject, a 'magistrate' is someone, usually not a lawyer, who works as a judge in a local court, dealing with less serious crimes and is also known as a JP (Justice of the Peace).

#85 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.

#86 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).

#87 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!!!

#88 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.

#89 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?'

#90 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). And in the US it is even used in the sense of pocket money!

#91 If you go to a special place where you can exercise, lift weights, do aerobics etc we usually talk about going to the 'gym'.

#92 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'.

#92 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?'

#93 Working more hours than you usually do (and hopefully getting paid for it) is known as 'working overtime'.

#94 One for the ladies: even though the English word make-up is used in some foreign languages too, the word is often stressed incorrectly. It falls on the first word, i.e., MAKE-up and not make-UP.

#95 Successfully putting the football in the back of the net is known as 'scoring' a goal. The 'score' can also refer to the result of the game as in 'Do you know the score?' To 'shoot' means kicking the ball in the direction of the goal but doesn't mean that it beats the goalkeeper. It would be wrong in English to say 'He shot a goal'.

#96 In English you *do* your job or you *do* a good job; you don't make it.

#97 It is incorrect to say 'to make business with someone'; you *do* business with people / companies. However, you can say 'to make money'.

#98 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'.

#99 You are or you go 'on' holiday and not 'in' holiday (sic.). Also you watch something 'on' TV and not in TV.

And for #100..... Never talk about looking TV / a film / a programme (sic.). We always say to 'watch' TV / to watch a film / programme.

#101 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'.

#102 You can never be 'on' a meeting (sic.) You are 'at' or 'in' a meeting.

#103 Though I'm sure thousands of people will e-mail me and give me exceptions (would that I had so many readers!) I am going to go out on a limb and make a sweeping statement: The word 'road' is usually used to talk about an expanse of tarmac joining two towns or cities whereas a 'street' is usually found within a town or city.

#104 We do not usually use the term 'social insurance' in British English. The UK system talks about National Insurance (NI).

#105 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'.

#106 A doctor gives you a prescription, which you then take to the chemist's or pharmacy.

#107 If you need instructions how to cook something then you read a recipe.

#108 Proof that you have paid a bill -- often needed to reclaim travel expenses -- is called a receipt

#109 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.

#110 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 aggressive!) if you referred to them as English!

#111 Don't forget to write the names of months with capital letters, e.g., January, March, September etc.

#112 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.

#113 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).

#114 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!

#115 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.

#116 You may have noticed that I refer to my website. This is the correct name for the application you are currently looking at. The word 'homepage' -- which has been borrowed by some other languages -- is the 'entrance' to the website and, in the case of my website, is the one with the pretzel / slice of toast.

#117 We don't talk about a park house (sic) in English; we refer to a multi-storey car park; the other extreme is usually called an underground car park 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 English 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.

#118 While we are on the subject... In British English the word 'garage' is used to mean (1) the small building adjoining your house where you store your car, (2) the place where you buy petrol (known as a gas station in American English) and (3) the place where you take your car to be repaired.

#119 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.

#120 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.

#121 Contrary to popular belief you do not have to put a full stop (or a period in US English) after the abbreviations Mr and Dr. The '.' implies that there are letters missing and as the abbreviation and the complete word both end in the letter 'r', there is nothing missing.

#122 Another transatlantic difference: in the UK we tend to think in terms of DDMMYYYY when we write dates so 10-08-2007 stands for 10 August 2007. Since the Americans tend to think in terms of MMDDYYYY they would interpret 10-08-2007 as meaning October 8, 2007. Confusion abounds!

#123 There is no longer a difference between an American and a British billion. They both mean one thousand million, i.e., 1000,000,000.

#124 Million is abbreviated with 'm' in English, not with 'Mio'. Confusingly, so are minute and metre!

#125 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.

#126 One for the German managers 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.

#127 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.

#128 In English you comment ON something. It is incorrect to say 'to comment something'.

#129 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.

#130 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!

#131 When you use a word that ends in '-ism' such as Anglicism, Americanism, Germanism etc. the stress should not fall on the 'ism'. Many foreign learners say, for example, AmericaNISM -- which is incorrect. The stress should be as follows: A'MERicanism.

#132 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!

#133 Of course you can cook the books, which means to manipulate accounts in a company and is fraudulent.

#134 Companies like British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa etc. are airlines.

#135 The final line of a joke, which usually contains all the humour, is called the punchline, not the point.

#136 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'

#137 In English we don't use the word 'one' as a personal pronoun as often as other languages do. We tend to use 'you', 'people' or to rephrase the sentence completely.

#138 In English there is no such word as 'loyality' (sic.). The word is 'loyalty' -- without an 'i'.

#139 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'.

#140 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.

#141 When using the word comment make sure you stress the first syllable, as in 'COMMent'. It is incorrect to pronounce it 'coMMENT'.

#142 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'!

#143 One for the economists out there. The two main principles in economics and the theory of the markets are supply and demand, not offer and demand (sic.).

#144 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'

#145 The word 'personell' (sic.) doesn't exist: the correct spelling is 'personnel' with double 'n' and only one 'l'.

#146 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'.

#147 Be careful with the phrase 'How do you do'. It is ONLY used when you meet someone for the *first* time, i.e., when you are introduced to someone and is also answered with 'How do you do'. It is similar to 'Pleased to meet you'. Answering 'Fine, thanks' to 'How do you do' is not correct. Don't confuse it with the -- more American -- phrase 'How're you doing?' which is closer to 'How are you?'

#148 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.

#149 The Americans might call it an apartment but in the UK we refer to it as 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.

#150 The abbreviation for the word number in English is not Nr., it is No.

#151 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. We also have dustbin men (although nowadays they are probably called environmental hygiene operatives!) and dustbin lorries. Litter bin is usually used for the same container on the street or attached to a lamppost. In the office you would say wastebin, waste paper bin or basket or even just bin.

#152 The part of the telephone that you hold in your hand and press to your ear can be called the receiver or the handset.

#153 A specialist doctor who works in a hospital can also be called a consultant -- nothing to do with McKinsey! They just charge as much...

#154 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.

#155 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!

#156 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 .....'

#157 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'.

#158 If you are dealing with education in the UK or if you ever have British teenagers staying with you on an exchange you may come across the term Sixth Form or Sixth Former. The Sixth Form refers to the final two years spent at school between 16 and 18 during which you study for your A levels, the exams which allow you to study at university. There are also separate institutions known as Sixth Form colleges.

#159 In English we don't use the phrase 'so to say' (sic.) You should say 'so to speak'.

#160 Did you know that another way to say 'for example' is 'for instance'?

#161 Be careful with the word trainee. It has a broader meaning than you might think; it refers to anyone who is receiving training! Someone who enters a company after university and does one or two years working in different departments in the company is usually called a graduate trainee or management trainee.

#162 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.

#163 The three pedals in your car are the accelerator, the brake and the clutch.

#164 Be careful with the word group 'assassination' 'to assassinate' and 'assassin'. To assassinate means to kill a well-known person such as a politician. It can not be used for any kind of terrorist attack, such as on the World Trade Centre.

#165 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.

#166 In the UK we often use the initials GP to mean a doctor. They stand for General Practitioner.

#167 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.).

#168 Here is a common misspelling... There is only one 's' in the middle of the word 'resources'.

#169 Another common misspelling; make sure you use three pairs of letters in the word committee: double 'm', double 't' and double 'e'!

#170 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.

#171 The party / formal meal after a wedding is usually called the (wedding) reception.

#172 If you don't get married in church then you get married in a registry office. The official who performs the ceremony is the registrar.

#173 Be careful with the verb 'to marry'. If you use this verb then you have to follow it with a person, e.g., 'Michael Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley', 'Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981'. The usual verb is 'to get married', e.g., 'My brother is getting married next year'; 'My parents got married 50 years ago'. You cannot say 'my brother is marrying in July' (sic.) or 'Prince Charles married in 1981' (sic.).

#174 Another way to say 'to want to' is 'to fancy doING sth', e.g., 'I fancy going for a pizza'; 'Do you fancy renting a video?'; 'I don't fancy going to the party'.

#175 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'.

#176 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.

#177 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.

#178 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.)!

#179 A figure such as a percentage is singular in English, e.g., 50% of sales IS .... and NOT 50% of sales are ....

#180 Especially in British English we often use the word 'nought' [nort] to mean nothing as in 0.5 (nought point five). We only use it BEFORE a decimal point though. You would NOT say 2.06 as 'two point nought six', you would say 'two point oh six'.

#181 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.

#182 Another word for very important is 'crucial'.

#183 Let's nip this in the bud before it takes too much of a hold! The notion of an 'after-job party' or a 'work-end party', which are both taking off in Germany, is NOT English. We might describe such a function as an 'after-work party' but an after-job party would be a celebration when you retire!

#184 In British English we use the word 'function' to describe an official party, celebration, event etc. Some pubs and restaurants advertise having a function room and may be closed because of a 'private function' In colloquial British English we also use the word 'do' to mean a party, as in a 'leaving do' when someone leaves a company and throws a party for their soon-to-be ex-colleagues.

#185 Let's nip another myth in the bud: in British English we don't really use the word 'wellness' (sic.) all that often. 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.

#186 God Save the Queen, the Marseillaise and the Stars and Stripes are known as national anthems. A hymn is a religious song that you sing in church.

#187 As well as being what you say when you toast someone, 'cheers' can also mean thank you or goodbye.

#188 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.

#189 Another example of modern Germlish (German English) is to make the abbreviation as soon as possible or asap into a word, i.e., I need the report azzapp (sic.) This is NOT English; we always say the letters separately, as in A, S, A, P (Ay, Ess, Ay, Pee). See also Tip #10.

#190 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.

#191 Another way to say 'I need' is 'I could do with....' as in 'I could do with a break / a holiday / a drink' etc.

#192 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.

#193 Many people wrongly assume that the phrase 'downtown' always means the city centre in American English. This isn't true. Downtown simply means a street lower down than where you are at present as opposed to uptown, which means a street higher up than where you are now. If you go from 132nd Street to 130th Street you are going downtown. By the same token you might be going uptown to somewhere in the city centre. Uptown and downtown are directions, not places. (See also tip #44)

#194 In America you will only hear 'you're welcome!' as the reply to thank you but there are alternatives. You can use expressions such as 'it was a / my pleasure' -- usually abbreviated to just 'my pleasure' or 'pleasure'; 'don't mention it' or 'no problem' as well.

#195 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. This isn't the case in the UK though and -- trust me -- you won't horrify your hosts if you ask them where the toilet is. However, we do often refer to the 'ladies' or the 'gents' or, in colloquial English, the 'loo'.

#196 In American English the word 'subway' means the underground transport system. In London this is known as the underground or just 'the tube'. In British English 'subway' means a pedestrian walkway that passes under a road or a street.

#197 In the UK water comes out of a tap in the kitchen or the bathroom, in the USA it comes out of a faucet.

#198 Everyone knows that 'mean' means nasty, unkind, not nice etc but did you also know that 'mean' means miserly, i.e., not liking to spend money. Another expression is tight or stingy. We also say 'first out of the taxi, last into the pub', 'short arms and deep pockets', skinflint, miser, scrooge and many more....

#199 When reporting a football score, e.g. Leeds 4, Liverpool 3 we say that the score was Leeds four, Liverpool three or that Leeds beat Liverpool four three. We do not say 4 to three (sic.). If both teams score the same number of goals we call it a draw. For example Leeds and Liverpool drew two two. (See also tip #95)

#200 Another common spelling mistake -- there is only one 't' in the word platform.

#201 In English the facility to provide you with relaxing bubbles in your bath tub is called a jacuzzi and not a whirlpool. A whirlpool is only a naturally-occurring phenomenon found outside.

#202 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'.

#203 The word 'overall' does not mean everywhere; it means including or covering everything, in general, on the whole.

#204 The word 'to commit' does not mean the same as 'to agree' or 'to promise'. Moreover, the word 'commitment' is overused and often wrongly used (especially by Germans). Check the meaning before you use it, I guarantee that you'll be surprised.

#205 The phrase 'for good' means forever as in 'Has he left for good?'. This explains the Take That song lyric 'Back For Good'.

#206 On a similar note; we use the word 'lyrics' to describe the text or words of a song.

#207 More music... We use the word 'track' to refer to a song on a CD or LP.

#208 Before people get married they often have a party celebrating their last night as single people. For the men this is called a 'stag night' and, because note that it is a separate party, the ladies go on a 'hen night'. Though nowadays these have developed into stag and hen weekends! Longer to enjoy the fun!

#209 We often use the idiomatic phrase that someone is 'living in cloud-cuckoo-land', meaning that someone is living in a fantasy world or that their ideas or suggestions are totally impractical or unworkable.

#210 Men usually carry a wallet in which they keep their (paper) money, credit cards etc. Ladies usually refer to the thing they carry -- with a similar function -- as a purse or a pocket book in the USA.

#211 The place at the side of the motorway where you stop if you break down is called the 'hard shoulder' (especially for Melanie Pawlik!).

#212 In English we don't understand the concept of a 'ghost driver', we would explain what he or she is doing, i.e. driving north on the south-bound carriageway for example.

#213 A road is divided into lanes (think of the Eagles song 'Life in the Fast Lane'). In the UK a motorway is a road with three lanes in each direction whereas a road with only two lanes in each direction is known as a dual carriageway.

#214 You would not talk about a building site on a road or motorway; we would use the term 'road works'. A building site means a place where a building is being constructed / built.

#215 In English the traffic light colours are red, amber and green as opposed to red, yellow (sic.) and green.

#216 Where do you sit in the summer at the back of your house sipping wine and chatting? No, not on the terrace (sic.) but on the *patio*! Definition: a paved area adjoining a house that is used for outdoor activities.

#217 A stand-alone house (lived in by one family) is called a detached house.

#218 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 just a 'semi'. Kinks fans may recognise this word!

#219 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.

#220 We often use the phrase 'runner-up' to describe someone who comes second. We wouldn't say 'vice-champion' (sic.) for example.

#221 The global football competition that happens every 4 years is called the World Cup in English, not the world championship (sic.).

#222 Even the great Michael Schumacher once got this one wrong. We don't say 'Thanks God!' (sic.), we say 'Thank God!'

#223 Be careful with the word 'firework'; it refers to one single rocket, catherine wheel, 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'.

#224 Another word for very exciting is 'gripping'. The play was a gripping thriller, for example.

#225 One for meetings: Try not to say 'I think that's not correct'. This is being very direct and dogmatic 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'.

#226 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, a speeding fine, a fine for fare dodging etc.

#227 What is fare dodging? Travelling on public transport without paying for a ticket. The money you pay to be transported somewhere is known as the fare, i.e., bus fare, plane fare, train fare etc. We would not understand you if you spoke about 'travelling black' (sic.)

#229 I always tell clients to write the month as a word when writing a date to avoid any confusion between the British way and the American way of writing dates. 3.8.2002 is August 3rd for me but March 8th for an American (see also #122).

#229 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').

#230 In Britain the most famous ones are red, in Germany they used to be yellow, Clark Kent uses one to get changed in, they are very often vandalised, what are they? Phone boxes or telephone boxes and *not* phone cells or phone cabins (sic.) Other possible expressions are phone booth, call box or pay phone.

#231 Don't try and order your steak 'English' as you will be greeted with blank looks from the waiter! If you don't want your steak to be cooked so much because you like the taste of blood (!) and raw-ish flesh then you should ask for it 'rare'.

#232 Football fans beware: we don't understand the concept of an 'English week' meaning a team playing two games in a week and one mid-week. This occasionally happens in England but is by no means a regular occurrence!

#233 We also use the word 'fixture' to mean a scheduled football match or other sporting event. Every team usually publishes its fixture list at the beginning of the season.

#234 The areas in a football stadium where all the fans sit -- where the seats are -- are known as the 'stands' or sometimes the 'grandstands' (also once the name of a well-known BBC sports programme). This is why we say 'to have a grandstand view' meaning to have a very good view of something.

#235 A football match played between two teams from the same town or city -- a derby --is pronounced darby not durby.

#236 Another way to say 'consecutive(ly)' is 'on the trot' or 'in a row', e.g., 'he has missed three meetings on the trot now, meaning that he has missed the last three meetings.

#237 In English the word 'aroma' is to do with smell, it doesn't mean taste or flavour.

#238 When someone speaks a variety of English that is typical for a special part of the UK, e.g, Yorkshire, Scotland, Wales etc, we say that they have an 'accent' not that they are speaking dialect. An accent merely sounds different to the English that Continental Europeans learned at school; a dialect would use different, regionally exclusive words and would hence be *much* more difficult to understand, also for other Brits. I argue constantly with many 'know-all' European clients who insist that I am speaking 'Yorkshire dialect' simply because my vowel sounds are a bit flatter.

#239 Watch the stress on the word 'operate' and the derivative 'operator'! The stress is on OPerator, not on on opeRATor. The exception is opeRATion.

#240 At New Year 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.

#241 In English, 31 December is known as New Year's Eve; 1 January is known as New Year's Day. In Scotland, New Year's Eve is known as Hogmanay!

#242 Did you know that in Scotland January 2nd is also a bank holiday? Could this be because they drink more at Hogmanay and thus need longer to recover (with apologies to all my Celtic friends!)

#243 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!!

#244 On Christmas Eve we leave a stocking at the end of our beds hoping that Santa Claus will fill it with presents during the night.

#245 If you live in a very remote area we often say you live 'in the sticks' or 'in the middle of nowhere' or even 'in the back of beyond'. The Americans also say 'out in the boondocks' or 'in the boonies'.

#246 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'. In a telecommunications or internet context you might find the term 'unmetered access', which means a flat rate. Likewise in a taxi the fare you have to pay is displayed on the meter.

#247 Another one for football fans: It appears that the English footballing term a 'hat trick' has taken on a different meaning in some languages. In its original English sense it simply means that one player scores three goals in the course of a match. These three goals don't have to be in one half and may be punctuated by goals by other players or by the opposition!

#248 Be careful when using the term 'home office' to mean a place where you work from home. In British English the Home Office is the Ministry of the Interior. We often also use the word 'study' for an office at home.

#249 In English the word 'address' has two 'd's; watch out!

#250 And the word 'apartment' only has one 'p'. Nor does it have an 'e' in the middle!

#251 And while we are looking at common spelling mistakes in English the word development has no 'e' between the 'p' and the 'm' like it does in French.

#252. Please remember that if you were born and live in Budapest then the country in which you live is Hungary. Hungaria (sic.) does not exist in English. The language and the people may be Hungarian(s) but they live in Hungary!

#253 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).

#254 A tricky pair of verbs is to oversee and to overlook. To overlook means to not notice, e.g. "I overlooked the fact that we had a meeting". However, the corresponding noun is an oversight, e.g. "It was an oversight on my part". The Americans do use the word oversight to mean an overview since I have seen the phrase corporate oversight meaning corporate governance. This ties in with the verb to oversee, which 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".

#255 Did you know that another way to say Happy Birthday is 'Many Happy Returns (of the Day)'? We usually only use the short form these days.

#256 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.

#257 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'.

#258 In English you don't make an exam (sic.) You take, sit or do an exam.

#259 To pass an exam implies success; it doesn't mean simply to take the exam.

#260 In the morning you get up, you don't stand up. For example, I get up at six o'clock.

#261. 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'.

#262 An abbreviation that is doing the rounds in company correspondence is cob or even cop, standing for close of business or close of play respectively: it basically means 'by the end of the working day', that's all!

#263 To discuss simply means to talk about. Don't confuse it with to argue. If you discuss something with someone it doesn't necessarily imply a difference of opinion.

#264. Be careful when filling in evaluations and feedback. Don't assume that all countries use the same system. In English we tend to use the letters A to E whereas in German the numbers 1 to 5 are used with 1 being the best and 5 the worst. In English we would reasonably assume that the higher number is superior so make sure you doublecheck what you're scoring.

#265 The Americans talk about buying food and drink 'to go' but in the UK we usually talk about buying food or drink to 'take-away'. In Scotland they also use the phrase 'carry-out'

#266 Another phrase that is doing the rounds is 'to give sb. a heads-up about sth.' which simply means to draw sth. to sb's attention.

#267 A bit of modern management and politician speak, which I personally loathe, is 'going forward' which simply means 'in the future'.

#268 In English we tend to use the word 'noisy' more often than 'loud' to describe a room, situation, pub etc. as in 'I don't like the pub round the corner as it's too noisy in there'.

#269 Another way to say rich is well-off. Thus richer can be expressed as better off and poorer worse off.

#270 On a similar note we can also say well-heeled to mean rich.

#271 One for the German sports commentators. There is no such thing as a 'shakehands'; the correct noun is a handshake.

#272. In the UK we usually say main station for Hauptbahnhof rather than central station, which is more American. Obviously Deutsche Bahn uses American language trainers (more fool them I say!).

#273. Likewise, where I can see the pedantic logic in using the word track (i.e. one platform has two tracks, one on either side) we still talk about platforms when giving train departure information, e.g., the 17.44 to Hamburg leaves from platform 1.

#274 The surveillance cameras you find in towns and cities (and indeed everywhere nowadays) are known as CCTV cameras, standing for closed-circuit television.

#276 In the UK the friendly men and women who patrol the streets and issue tickets if you park somewhere you shouldn't are usually called traffic wardens.

#277 The area represented by a politician is known as a constituency. Hence the people he or she represents are constituents.

#278 The word people is singular. If you do use the word 'peoples' it means nationals from different countries (especially for Joachim, whose favourite mistake this is!)

#279. Don't get confused: there is no difference in meaning between luggage and baggage.

#280 It is more idiomatic to refer to a conference call (i.e. a phone call involving more than 2 parties) rather than a telco, especially because the word telco is often used as an abbreviation for telecommunications company.

#281 A very popular British pastime is DIY standing for "do it yourself" meaning that you work on your house: decorating, painting, fixing, renovating etc. This gives rise to the concept of DIY stores where you buy the things you need to do this work and also to other activities being described as DIY, meaning without the use of a professional. Examples include a DIY pension (not using a financial adviser) or a DIY house sale (not using the services of an estate agent).

#282 The mobile phone billing mode whereby the customer buys a pre-paid card or pays for airtime in advance is known as PAYG or pay as you go.

#283 In American English they use the word highway but in the UK we talk about motorways. Incidentally, a motorway has, by definition, three lanes.

#284 A modern term for the peak or highest point on a graph or chart, especially one that is sudden or unusual, is a 'spike'.

#285 Did you know that the technical term to describe professional training and learning how to do a job is 'vocational training'?

#286 In English we don't reflect something (sic.), meaning to review or think about something we reflect 'on' something.

#287 Two terms for music fans and concert-goers: the lesser-known group who comes on before the main attraction is called the 'support group' or often just the 'support'. The extra songs that the band play after they have gone off for the first time are known as an 'encore'.

#288 Be careful with the verb ‘to bring’; it is only used if the object in question (i.e. being brought) is moving towards the speaker.
What do I mean? Well, if a boss is sitting in his office and calls his assistant and says, ‘Could you bring me the XYZ report’ then the report will be moving towards / in the direction of the speaker so ‘bring’ is being used correctly. If the boss says, ‘Please bring this file to the accounts department’ then the file is moving away from him so ‘bring’ isn’t correct.
It isn’t correct, for example, to say ‘I have to bring my daughter to school’ (sic.) or ‘Would you like me to bring you to the station?’ (sic.). In both cases you should use the verb ‘to take’ or even better ‘to drop off at’.

#289 Another word for (really) tired is exhausted.

#290 In the UK we don't tend to use academic and especially doctoral qualifications as part of our names. Doctors are usually found in hospitals and in universities, not in companies.

#291 A bit of parenting-parlance: in the UK the means of transporting a small child is often called a pushchair or a buggy. In the US this piece of equipment is called a stroller, a word which is not really used or even well-known in the UK.

#292 On a similar note the items used to 'wrap' babies' behinds are known as nappies in the UK and diapers in the US, Pampers being the best known disposable brand.

#293 Another word for difficult to do or deal with is tricky as in 'I could get to London on 24 December but it'll be tricky!'

#294 The person getting or receiving something such as a letter is known as the recipient.

#295 German glass bottle manufacturers take note! The concept of a one-way or a multi-way bottle (sic.) means nothing to us English-speakers. The small sum of money that you get back if you return a certain kind of bottle is called the deposit; hence we talk about deposit bottles. Conversely, bottles with no deposit can be thrown away or 'disposed of' so they are known as 'disposable' bottles and you take them -- at least you should -- to the bottle bank!

#296 We sometimes use the phrase 'Let's call it a day' to mean let's come to an end, let's finish or close for the day.

#297. Be careful with the verb and noun 'play'. You go to see a play at a theatre. While it is true that you do play football (as a verb) the noun (what you play) is a football game or a football match.

#298 A new word to kick off 2008: frosting. This is apparently the latest form of car theft and involves the opportunistic theft of cars whose engines have been left running for a few seconds to warm up the engine.

#299 If we say something is just a little bit warm, usually to mean that isn't warm enough, we often use the phrase 'luke warm', e.g., "I think my main course must've been left standing in the kitchen for a while because when it arrived it was luke warm".

#300 Though it might sound confusing we talk about a book, text or article 'saying' something. We wouldn't say 'It stands in the article that....' (sic.); we would say 'The article says that....'.

#301 Packs of playing cards are divided into four suits: hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades.

#302 Following on from this we also have the notion of 'following suit', which means copying the actions of someone else. For example, "Now that XYZ Airlines have started charging passengers to check in hand luggage all the other low-cost airlines are expected to follow suit."

#303 By the way, other ways to describe low-cost airlines are no-frills airline, no-frills carrier, budget airline or budget carrier.

#304 You might come across the concept – originally American, hence the name - of an elevator pitch (or elevator speech). Wikipedia defines it an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (say, thirty seconds or 100-150 words).
It is typically used in the context of an entrepreneur pitching an idea to a venture capitalist to receive funding. Venture capitalists often judge the quality of an idea and team on the quality of its elevator pitch and will ask entrepreneurs for the elevator pitch to quickly weed out bad ideas.
It is said to originate from the notion that many of the most important decisions made on the floor of the United States House or Senate are made ‘within the span of an elevator ride’ as a staff aide whispers into a Congressman or Senator's ear while they head down to the floor to cast their vote.
An effective elevator pitch generally answers questions such as what the product is and what it does for the buyer (e.g. the benefits).

#305 Another way to say to admit to doing sth. is 'to own up to doing sth.', e.g., He owned up to scratching his dad's car.

#306 Please note that there is no verb 'to presentate' (sic.); you might give a presentation but what you do is to present something!

#307 On a similar note, the process of writing to a prospective employer to ask for a new job is NOT, I repeat NOT, to applicate for a job (sic.). In English, although you send in your application you apply for a job!

#308 In colloquial English we often describe a decision as being a 'no brainer'. This means that it is an easy one and one that you do not even need to think about it!

#309 In British English we use the term Exchequer to mean the British government department that is responsible for collecting taxes and paying out public money. The correct title of the British Finance Minister is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the USA the equivalent dept. would be the Treasury.

#310 For reasons best known to themselves the Americans refer to their government as an Administration rather than a government.

#311 It is more correct to talk about your tax return rather than your tax declaration (sic.) to mean the form on which you give information enabling your tax to be calculated.

#312 A Germlish neologism recently coined by Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) made me smile the other day. They were advertising an "after date party" (sic.)! Now, given that a date means going out with someone usually with romantic intentions anything that you do after the date with that person would, at least in my opinion, usually be done à deux, often -- but not necessarily -- in the bedroom and would usually be known as sex! Please don't use it as it doesn't make sense (see also #183 on after-job parties).

#313 Any year that has a 29th February is called a leap year.

#314 Now all web designers should go running to their websites to check that they haven't misspelled customer and ended up with costumer (sic.) Some of them have, take it from me!

#315 You might be surprised to learn that a slip isn't an item of underwear worn by a man but is actually a piece of underwear, similar to a thin dress or skirt, that a woman wears under a dress or skirt.

#316 We often use the phrasal verb to clamp down on something meaning to take firm action to try and stop a particular type of action or crime, as in 'the company is clamping down on staff using the internet during working hours'.

#317 The verb transpire doesn't have anything to do with sweating. To transpire is a formal way to say 'it turns out that'. For example, "It now transpires that the missing canoe man had been hiding at home while he was believed to have died."

#318 Did you know that, as well as being a part of a book, chapter can be used to mean the local members of a large organization such as a club as in "the Dortmund chapter of the Leeds United fan club"?

#319 Many people are often confused by the difference between a chemist's, pharmacist's and a drug store so here goes... A pharmacist is someone who prepares and sells medicines. This is the usual American English term but in British English, pharmacist is slightly technical and it is more common to use the word chemist. A pharmacist works in a pharmacy and this can be a shop, part of a shop, or even part of a hospital. Pharmacy is more usual in American English but in the UK we usually refer to the part of a hospital that prepares and gives out medicines as a pharmacy and use the word chemist or chemist's for the shop where medicines are prepared and sold. In Britain chemist's usually also sell other things, such as beauty and baby products. One of the best know retail chemists in the UK is Boots. This would be called a drugstore in the USA.

#320 In the UK we have shops known as off-licences, i.e., shops that sell wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks. Colloquially they are known as 'offies'. They would be known as a liquor store in American English.

#321 There are lots of words for the devices that enable you to get access to your money when the banks are closed. Some of them are cash machine, cash dispenser, cash point, ATM (standing for automated teller machine) and, last but not least, hole in the wall (yes really!).

#322 ATMs are so called because a bank teller is someone whose job is to receive and pay out money.

#323 The correct word for taking money from your own account is 'to withdraw' or to 'make a withdrawal' as in 'I'd like to withdraw 100 pounds please'.

#324 Usually contracted to 'You'd better do....' the full form is actually 'you had better do....' not you 'would better do... (sic.)'. For example, 'If we want to catch the last train you had better ask for the bill'.

#325 The term 'fatcat' is colloquially used in British English to mean someone who is perceived as having too much money, especially someone who is paid too much for their job. It is often used to express disapproval of highly-paid CEOs and other executives.

#326 In British English describing someone as 'thick' is a colloquial way of saying he or she is stupid; it has nothing to do with being fat.

#327 Many pubs and bars in the UK have bouncers these days, people whose job it is to stand at the door and stop unwanted people coming in or make people leave if they are behaving badly.

#328 We say a cheque bounces if the bank will not honour it (i.e. pay any money) because there is not enough money in the account of the person who wrote it. This is why we sometimes refer to writing rubber cheques!

#329 Don't be confused by the word copy. If you ask for 2 copies of a document then both of them are classed as originals. It can mean two original versions of the same document.
We also use it to mean a book as in "I've lent my copy of About A Boy to Petra".

#330 Many learners are horrified when they have to try to pronounce it but the verb to deteriorate is quite useful. It means to get worse and is, as such, the opposite of to improve!

#331 Another useful verb that is a bit of a tongue twister is to exacerbate, meaning to make a bad situation (even) worse as in 'The credit crunch has exacerbated the private debt problem in the UK'.

#332 The adjective 'to be loath (or loth) to do something' means to be unwilling to do something as in 'I'm loath to sign the agreement until my lawyer has read it'. Both spellings are possible.

#333 However, the verb to loathe doing sth. means to hate someone or someone very strongly as in 'I loathe standing in queues at airports'. Here there is only one possible spelling.

#334 To dub means to give something or someone a name that describes them in some way and has a similar meaning as to label or to name; examples are "When he was playing for Hamburg SV the footballer Kevin Keegan was dubbed Mighty Mouse" or "The Swiss Re headquarters in the City of London has been dubbed the erotic gherkin". (See also Tip #22)

#335 Be careful with the phrase 'I feel sick, bad, ill' etc. It isn't reflexive in English so you should not say 'I feel myself ill' (sic.)

#336 Please don't talk about 'driving ski" (sic.) or being a "ski-driver' (sic.); the correct verb is quite simply to ski and the person who does it is a skier.

#337 In France they say 'Bon appetit', in Germany and the German-speaking world 'Guten Appetit' or even 'Mahlzeit'. But in English we don't usually say anything before beginning to eat although some people do say 'Bon appetit' and, especially in the USA and increasingly in restaurants in the UK too, waiters and waitresses say 'Enjoy your meal' or even worse just 'Enjoy'!

#338 Be careful of the 'g' sound in the word digital: it is a soft 'g' as in Germany. As is the 'g' in legislation and legislative although the 'g' in legal and illegal is a hard-sounding 'g' as in golf! Nobody ever said that English was logical (with a soft 'g')!

#339 Please do not use the phrase 'by my own' (sic.) as it isn't correct; either use on my own or by myself.

#340. Tennis is played on a court with a racquet, as is squash, whereas golf is played on a course with clubs.

#341 Never say that something made fun (sic.) Say that it was fun or that you enjoyed it, for example 'I enjoyed the company party last Friday, it was good fun!'

#342. In English we don't make a party (sic.); we have or throw a party.

#343 A current trendy management phrase is to talk about achieving 'buy-in'. This is simply another way to say support or approval for something.

#344 On a similar note 'sign-off' simply means approval, consent or (written) permission.

#345 The abbreviations a.m. and p.m. stand for ante meridiem and post meridiem respectively. Contrary to popular myths circulating in the German-speaking world they do NOT stand for after midnight or past midday.

#346 Please don't shout 'Hallo!' to try to attract somebody's attention as we don't do this in English. The correct thing to say or shout would be 'Excuse me!'.

#347 In English Ford, Mercedes, BMW etc are usually known as 'makes' of car rather than brands.

#348 In English you might hear someone talking about getting or earning brownie points. This is an informal expression meaning to get praise for something you've done after trying to make someone have a good opinion or impression of you, for example, "She earned a lot of brownie points for organising the staff Christmas party." Incidentally, Brownies are the younger members of the Girl Guide Association, which is the female 'wing' of the scouts!

#349 Especially in business writing you might come across the verb 'to outstrip', as in "We outstripped all our competitors in sales last year." or "Demand for the new Apple iPhone is outstripping supply."
It simply means to do something better than someone else or to be more successful; in the latter example it means to be greater in quantity.

#350 In English we say that someone jumped or was thrown in at the deep end, meaning they chose or were made to do a very difficult job without having prepared for it.
For example, "When I had to facilitate the meeting with the CEO and the Chinese delegates I was really thrown in at the deep end."
The deep end refers to the end of a swimming pool where the water is so deep that you can't stand up so if you can't swim......, you've got problems!

#351 The opposite of deep is shallow. We also use this in a disapproving way to describe people who aren't interested in, or don't show any understanding of, important or serious issues.

#352 Have you ever come across -ish, as in "How old is he?" -- "He's forty-ish."
It is used in spoken English to mean approximately, about or quite. So forty-ish means about forty; tall-ish means quite tall, easy-ish means quite easy as in "Was the test easy?" -- "Well it was easy-ish!"

#353 Incidentally, in English a swimming pool needn't necessarily be outdoor. You find swimming pools indoors too!

#354 Please note that in English litre is pronounced with a longer i sound so that it rhymes with Peter, not with bitter!

#355 Similarly the word pizza is pronounced with a longer i sound in English. It sounds like Pete-tsa, not like pitt-sa!

#356 In English, as well as the familiar sense of the takeaway food that is pitta bread filled with lamb or chicken (ie what is known as a döner in Germany) the word kebab also means small pieces of meat and vegetables cooked on a stick or skewer.

#357 Be careful with the word pharmaceutical: the [eu] sound in the middle is pronounced as an [oo] sound and not as an [oy] sound.

#358 The typical English unit of measurement for liquid, especially beer and milk, is pronounced pint with a long [ei] sound.

#359 Did you know that the word 'banger' can be a firework, a colloquial word for an old car and, last but not least, a colloquial word for a sausage; hence the oft-seen item 'bangers and mash' (sausages and mashed potato) on English pub menus.

#360 Note that the pronunciation of 'gross', meaning 'before tax' or 'before any deductions' as in gross domestic product (GDP) or Gross Written Premiums is with a long [oh] sound. It doesn't rhyme with the English word boss but is pronounced similarly to the German word for big or large!

#361 People often ask me how to say years such as 2010 or 2011 et seq. The simple answer is that the jury is still out, i.e., we haven't quite decided yet! There are precedents for both versions, i.e. 'twenty ten' or 'two thousand and ten'.
There was a pop song in the sixties by Zager and Evans called 'In the Year 2525' and they used 'twenty five twenty five' whereas the film by director Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey, used 'two thousand and one'.
My advice is wait and see and, if in doubt, go with the majority of native speakers or see what the BBC uses. They are already laying down a marker by referring to the Twenty Twelve Olympics in London.

#362 A nightmare if your company name or indeed your surname contains the letter 'Z': in British English we pronounce this letter [zed] whereas the Americans pronounce it [zee] as in the bearded Texan Blues & Boogie trio ZZ Top [Zee Zee Top]!

#363 While we are on a zed note, in British English we use the phrase an 'A to Z' [pronounced zed] to mean a detailed street-by-street map of a large city.

#364 Be careful with this little rule: We say “I work eight hours a day” but “I work an eight-hour day”, i.e. without an ‘s’. If you place the number, quantity or amount before the noun and use it like an adjective then you drop the ‘s’. Similarly, an Audi Quattro is a four-wheel-drive car; if your Rolex costs 25,000 dollars then it is a 25,000-dollar Rolex; if you work Monday to Saturday then you work a six-day week even though you go to work on six days. You get the idea…?

#365 Watch out for another -- probably American -- business neologism that is beginning to do the rounds: a 'flying lunch'. This simply means a quick lunch.

#366 Please be careful with the phrase "Nice to meet you". To quote a well-known BBC TV show, listen very carefully, I shall say this only once...
You cannot, I repeat, cannot, say "Nice to meet you" to someone you already know. Put simply, you can only say it once, yes once, to each and every person on the planet. You use it the first time that you meet someone -- i.e., when you are introduced to them for the first time -- and then you don't use it again. For every other occasion you should say "Nice to see you"!
(And if anyone e-mails me with the name of the BBC show I quoted here they'll get lots of brownie points -- see #348!)

#367 In English we usually refer to brothers and sisters rather than sisters and brothers (sic.). So don't ask people if they have any sisters or brothers; ask them if they have any brothers or sisters! And if anyone accuses me of being sexist I just reply that it makes alphabetical sense as 'b' comes before 's'!

#368 Please note that in English we use the term Grand Prix to refer to Formula One motor sport, not to kitschy, annual Europe-wide song contests (Belgique: nul points!). This is usually referred to as the Eurovision Song Contest or just Eurovision.

#369 Further to #360 did you know that, in American English, 'gross' can also mean horrible, terrible or disgusting?

#370 One of my clients was recently confused by my use of the phrase 'I won't be a minute!' This simply means 'I will be with you very soon', 'I will be ready very soon', 'We can start / leave very soon' etc.

#371 Don't greet a group of people with 'Hello Together!' as we don't use this in English. It's more correct to say 'Hello everyone' or 'Hello everybody'.

#372 Watch out! If goods or items are available for sale we say that they are in stock, not on stock (sic.). For example, "The latest iPhones are now in stock and can be ordered online". The opposite would be to be out of stock, ie, something is sold out.

#373 Note that the participle of 'to rise' -- risen -- is pronounced with a short 'i' sound, as in bizz, not as in rise!

#374 If you answer the phone and the caller asks to speak to you, not realising that you are already on the line, then the correct response is 'Speaking!'

#375 When pronouncing the word 'employer' make sure you emphasise the middle syllable, i.e., emPLOYer. On the other hand the word employee has the emphasis on the last syllable, i.e., emploYEE.

#376 Please pronounce the word data as [day-ta] rather than [dah-ta]. Thank you.

#377 Let me nip the use of another potential Germlish expression -- bossing -- in the bud before it catches on. As a verb, to boss or to boss somebody around / about only has ONE meaning in English: to tell people to do things, give them orders etc, especially when you have no authority to do it.
It has nothing to do with bullying! German speakers take note: "Bossing" (sic.) is a non-concept. A boss may boss you around and tell you what to do but he is not a bully! Please don't use it.

#378 Did you know that the decade just passed (2000-2009) has come to be known as the 'noughties'?

#379. Beware of using the phrase "I can't see .... any more" (sic). If you say this, I assume translated literally from German, you are implying that you have suddenly gone blind! What you really mean is "I'm sick of the sight of......" or "I'm fed up of seeing.....".

#380 Watch out for the difference between to pronounce and to spell. Some learners have said to me, when reading an article, that they don't know how to spell a certain word, which is weird as it is there on the page in front of them! What they meant was that they didn't know how to pronounce it, i.e., how to say it correctly.

#381 I know that, for some reason, it sounds temptingly correct but you can never, never say "What means ......?" (sic.). You should say "How do you say ...... in English / German / whatever?" or "What's the English / German for ......?". "What means.... ?" is just wrong, wrong, wrong!

#382. Don't say 'strictly spoken' (sic.); the correct expression is 'strictly speaking'.

#383. The word suite as in en suite bathroom, office suite, the C-suite of a company (the area where all the managers whose titles begin with C -- such as CEO -- work) is pronounced the same as the word sweet.

#384. There's a difference between lose and loose. The verb to lose (one 'o') is the opposite of to find; loose ( two o's) is the opposite of tight.

#385. Be careful when you are saying the time. Do NOT say "It's six o'clock pm" (sic.), for example as this isn't correct. Either say "It's six pm" or "It's six o'clock (in the evening)" but don't combine the words 'o'clock' and 'pm' as this isn't idiomatic English.

#386. A horse lives in a stable but did you know that a cow lives in a cowshed, a pig lives in a pigsty, a dog lives in a kennel and small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs live in a hutch?

#387. Another stupid -- most probably American -- management neologism I came across this week is a buzz session. This is simply a new trendy way of saying a brainstorming session. Please avoid.

#388. Be careful when copying English usage from MTV. I know that you have all seen the Pimp My Ride TV show on MTV but did you know that a pimp is actually a man who makes money by controlling prostitutes?

I wouldn't use it in a business context. I was recently asked, for example, to help someone pimp their CV and I'm sure they would be horrified if they knew what the origins of the word were!

#389. Don't say 'in the mid of June / May' or whatever month you mean (sic.). Either say in mid-May, in mid-June etc or say in the middle of May, in the middle of June etc.

#390. Another ubiquitous piece of modern consultant-speak is granularity. All it apparently means is the level of detail that is considered in a model or decision-making process. The greater the granularity, the deeper the level of detail.

#391. A lot of people have problems pronouncing the word clothes because of the 'th' and 's' in close proximity.
A tip from one of my favourite ESP experts, Rita Baker at Lydbury English Centre, is to ignore the 'th' and pronounce the word like close as in 'close the door'. The difference is miniscule and it is much easier to pronounce.

#392. A word that confused a client this week was 'bottle bank'. This is the name for the large container where you take glass bottles and jars to be recycled.

#393. You can use the word 'belated(ly)' to wish someone Happy Birthday or Happy New Year after the actual date as in 'Belated Happy Birthday' or 'Happy New Year belatedly'.

#394. When you write monetary amounts such as 37 million euros etc it is more common to write the currency symbol before the amount, i.e., €37 million, even though, when you say the amount, you say the currency at the end. In my opinion writing 37 million € (sic.) isn't correct and looks unusual.

#395. On a similar note let me repeat for those people who don't seem to want to heed my advice that Mio. (sic.) is not an abbreviation for million in English. The only correct abbreviation for million is m. You should never be writing Mio. in any English reports or presentations. Never!

#396. A commonly expressed desirable quality for new employees is that they can "hit the ground running". This means that they can start doing their job successfully without any delay.

#397. Try to avoid the horrible American management-speak expression "going forward". Use in the future instead.

#398. Another management-speak neologism that is doing the rounds is DeepDive.
Here's how the Deloitte website defines it: "The DeepDive™ is a combination of brainstorming, prototyping and feedback loops merged into an approach that executives can use with teams to help develop solutions for specific business challenges. The DeepDive™ can be done in as little as half a day, or to help achieve results over a longer period.
The DeepDive™ consists of a professionally produced team toolkit, including facilitators’ guides, participants’ guides, wall-charts, quick-reference cards, PowerPoint templates and DVDs — everything required to facilitate the DeepDive™ methodology."

#399. Don't ask 'How is it called?' (sic.); you should ask 'What is it called?' Likewise, don't ask 'How does it look like? (sic.) but prefer 'What does it look like?'
However, the question 'How does it look?' is correct.

#400. Try not to start informal emails with Hey! Especially in British English, being addressed as Hey! gives the impression that you have done something wrong and are being reprimanded. Prefer Hi if you want to stay informal.

#401. Please don't write Thanks with an apostrophe, i.e., Thank's (sic.). It is incorrect. There is no need for an apostrophe.

#402. When saying the abbreviation CEO, short for Chief Executive Officer, make sure that you pronounce each letter individually, e.g., See Ee Oh. Otherwise it may be confused with c/o, standing for 'care of'.

# 403. Recently came across a new false friend. In English, esp. British English, 'gaffer' is a colloquial word for boss. In German it means gawper or rubber-necker, i.e., someone who stops to stare and take pictures after an accident has occurred on the motorway, for example.


Legal stuff
Change to German Version