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10 English words that don't mean what you think

Very often, Russian-speaking immigrants, based on the similarity with their native languages, misuse English words. To avoid such incidents, the edition Lifehacker has collected 10 pairs of similar words that our people often use incorrectly.

Photo: Shutterstock

1. Hospital vs hospital

Hospital - military hospital

  • The wounded soldiers received medical attention at the hospital.

Hospital - any hospital

  • He spent a week in hospital with food poisoning.
  • He spent a week in the hospital with food poisoning.

In Russian, a hospital is called a military hospital (or the one that was previously assigned to the military). But in the USA and Great Britain, a hospital means any medical institution, including a civil one. The most interesting thing is that the verb "hospitalize" was formed from the English word - and it no longer has anything to do with the military.

2. Episode vs episode

Episode - change, excerpt

  • Can you retell at least one episode from the Tarantino film?

Episode - series

  • Have you seen the last episode of Game of Throne?
  • Have you watched the latest Game of Thrones episode?

The first word that every fan of English-language TV series remembers is episode. This is what one series is called in English. In Russian, an episode is only an excerpt, not a completed work. Although, given the popularity of Netflix, the word is gradually taking root in its English meaning.

3. Student vs student

Student - university student

  • From session to session, students live happily.

Student - schoolboy, student

  • In British private schools, students have to wear a uniform.
  • In British private schools, students are required to wear a uniform.

It is an honor to be a student. Maybe that's why we increasingly call our students so - following the example of the English language. If you want to argue "what about the word pupil?" - know that this pupil itself is outdated. Both children and adults are now referred to as students.

On the subject: 40 most common mistakes in English that Russian speakers make

4. Corduroy vs velvet

Corduroy - ribbed cotton

  • It is a pity that the beloved corduroy jacket rubbed at the elbows.

Velvet - velvet

  • She wore blue velvet.
  • She was dressed in blue velvet.

Ironically, velvet is velvet, not corduroy. If you are not a fashionista, you can distinguish the fabrics by the ribs that corduroy traditionally has. Why such a linguistic confusion occurred is unknown, although both materials are similar in their soft surface - one would like to call them in one word. You can remember the example of the famous dessert: Red Velvet - translated as "Red Velvet".

5. Ultimate vs ultimate

Ultimate - categorical, containing an ultimatum

  • The negotiations were conducted in an ultimatum order.

Ultimate - basic, final, comprehensive

  • The ultimate goal of his work is to help people.
  • The main task of his work is to help people.

Both words came from the same Latin root, which means "extreme", but acquired different shades in Russian and English. "Ultimate" refers only to ultimatums, while the English lexeme is about the most important thing, as in the phrases "ultimate goal" and "basic principles" (ultimate principles).

6. Routine vs routine

Routine - following a pattern, a mechanical habit

  • I won't let my life become a routine.

Routine - mode, usual order.

  • My morning routine has to inspire me.
  • My morning routine should inspire me.

English-speaking bloggers managed to make the routine enjoyable. True, by routine, they do not mean in any way gray days, but "mode", "normal order" - as in the expression skincare routine (skin care scheme). The main difference is in the emotional coloring: in English it is a neutral word, in Russian it is negative. This may soon change - judging by how often the phrase “my routine” sounds on YouTube.

7. Decade vs decade

Decade - ten days

  • The decade of English cinema starts in Russia.

Decade - ten years

  • That's the first time I've heard of him in decades.
  • This is the first time I've heard of him in decades.

The Greek deka, which means ten, became a decade (or ten days) in Russian and a decade (or a decade) in English. These words are so often confused that they have become false friends of the translator.

On the subject: Snickers, siblings and the Alexander: 20+ secrets of English breaking language stereotypes

8. Technically vs technically

Technically - in terms of technology

  • To get your engine repaired, you need to be tech-savvy.

Technically - formally, in the strict sense

  • Technically, tomato is a berry.
  • Strictly speaking, a tomato is a berry.

Sometimes Russian words cannot be translated into English (although they would be useful to foreigners!) It also happens vice versa: some English lexemes are so capacious that they are not enough in Russian, and technically is one of them. This word, like the Russian “technically”, can mean “from the point of view of technology,” but most often it is used in the meaning of “formal”, “in the strict sense”. This semantics is no longer in the Russian version.

9. Expertise vs expertise

Expertise - research

  • The forensic examination was carried out in a short time.

Expertise - knowledge and experience, competence

  • She has considerable expertise in English history.
  • She has extensive knowledge of the history of England.

The word comes from the Latin expertus ("experienced") and was fixed in Russian as the name of the process - "providing expert opinion", and in English - as the very designation of expert opinion.

10. Patron vs patron

Patron - patron, protector

  • In ancient Rome, patrons were taken under the patronage of poor citizens.

Patron is a regular customer, sponsor

  • Jane is a permanent British museum patron.
  • Jane constantly donates money to the British Museum.

The word "patron" has not lost its connection with financial relations. But in English the patron has lost its patronage pathos. Now it is just a client or sponsor who is ready to financially support a museum, theater or initiative. The Russian version of the word is limited by the historical context, although more and more viewers who donate money to bloggers through Patreon are called patrons.

Read also on ForumDaily:

40 most common mistakes in English that Russian speakers make

Snickers, siblings and the Alexander: 20+ secrets of English breaking language stereotypes

What is wrong with language schools and how to learn English without them: a teacher's opinion

6 best apps for self-study English

24 English idioms almost everyone makes mistakes

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