Remember “actual” from our first lesson? It means that something is true or correct. Its false friend “aktuell” means that something is current or up-to-date. Mix them up and you completely change the meaning of what you are trying to say. The false friends “eventuell” and “eventually” are equally deceiving.
The German “eventuell” means that something might happen, but we don’t know if it really will. It translates most closely to “possibly” or “maybe”. The English “eventually” describes something that will definitely happen, but we don’t know when.
- I will have to get out of bed eventually.
- The battery in my phone is eventually going to run out.
- We will paint the living room eventually.
There is no optionality in these statements, but there is an implied waiting period. It’s not like you can stay in bed forever. Given enough time, the event of you getting out of bed will happen. “Eventually” describes a certainty, but we don’t know when that certainty is going to manifest. Use it when you could replace it with “sooner or later”.
Despite what its false friend might have you assume, you cannot replace “eventually” with “maybe”. It’s not like your phone’s battery is maybe going to run out. Given enough time, it certainly will be empty. One day, we will paint the living room.
Mistranslating “eventuell” with “eventually” alters the meaning of a sentence:
- “Ich werde eventuell nach Paris fahren.” → I have not decided if I will go to Paris or not.
- “I will eventually go to Paris.” → Some time in my life, I will go to Paris.
When you don’t know if something will happen, use “maybe”. If you don’t know when it will happen, use “eventually”.
If you follow these lessons, your English will improve eventually.
All lessons in this course
Two words can look like translations of each other even if they aren’t. The word “actual” is our first venture into this category of false friends.
Even if you translate each individual word in a sentence correctly, the resulting translation can still be off.
Not every word in a sentence needs to appear in its translation. Languages don’t map to each other one-to-one.
You can spot Germans by the fact that they use “or” to ask questions. Unfortunately, the word doesn’t work that way in English.
This mistranslation gave this course its name. “Together” refers to doing something with others. Here’s how to greet a group of people instead.
What do you call a phone you can hold in your hand? Well, it’s not this. If you call it a handy, you’re in for some awkward looks.
“Bekommen” and “to become” are another pair of false friends. If you want something, make sure you’re not accidentally turning yourself into that thing.
Is it “less mistakes” or “fewer mistakes”? They both seem to say that something is not as much as it was before, but only one is grammatically correct.
False friends are everywhere. Eventually is very similar to the German “eventuell”, but it means something completely different.
Why isn’t it “Whom let the dogs out”? The extra letter does not turn a regular “who” into a fancy version of itself.
When coming from a language that doesn’t normally use them, where to put apostrophes can seem confusing.
Was an event organized by “Nina and I” or “Nina and me”? To find which one applies, take the other person out of the sentence for a second.
You’re doing well, Superman is doing good. This lesson looks at the rules behind which of these two is correct in a given situation.
When you’re excited about something, tell others what that thing is. On its own, you’re only saying half an expression otherwise.
When you don’t know someone’s preferred pronouns, you can use they/them even when speaking about an individual person and not a group.
We have been taught to always say please and thank you. Whether they are right for a situation depends on the context.
Some actions happen to multiple people at once, like running into someone. In these situations, we need to use reciprocal pronouns.
Other languages don’t always use the auxillary “do” as much as the English language does, so it’s often lost in translation.