Hello together

You are writing an email to several people and want everybody to feel addressed. Instead of listing their names individually, you use a collective greeting to address everybody at the same time and start your message with:

“Hello together!”

While we say “hallo zusammen” in German, native English speakers would never say “hello together”. This one is a dead giveaway that you are translating directly from German, and one we can correct easily.

The “together” in “hello together” refers to doing something collectively, expressed through “gemeinsam” in German. If I counted to three and we then said “hello” at the same time, we could afterwards say that “we said ‘hello’ together”.

To greet many people at once, use something like “hello everyone” or “hi everybody”.

Avoid the gendered “guys”, even if it is often used to talk about mixed-gender groups. “Guys” is decidedly male, whether we intend to imply an all-male audience or not. You wouldn’t go to a zoo and greet all animals with “hello giraffes”, so let’s not group all genders as “guys”.

You can replace “guys” with unisex words such as “folks” or “people”. If you are not a fan of this level of political correctness, you can often remove “guys” entirely:

  • “You guys are funny.” → “You people are funny.”
  • “Have a nice weekend, guys!” → “Have a nice weekend!”

Fun fact: I named this course “Hello Together” sarcastically, and quickly learned that this wasn’t the best decision. It originally went out via email, and the messages’ deliverability suffered because of the name. Turns out some email providers send messages that contain “hello” in their subject line straight to the spam folder.

All lessons in this course

1

An actual video

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.

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2

Making a photo

Even if you translate each individual word in a sentence correctly, the resulting translation can still be off.

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3

What for a picture

Not every word in a sentence needs to appear in its translation. Languages don’t map to each other one-to-one.

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4

Or?

You can spot Germans by the fact that they use “or” to ask questions. Unfortunately, the word doesn’t work that way in English.

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Hello together

This mistranslation gave this course its name. “Together” refers to doing something with others. Here’s how to greet a group of people instead.

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6

Handy

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.

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7

Becoming a car

“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.

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8

Less vs fewer

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.

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9

Eventually

False friends are everywhere. Eventually is very similar to the German “eventuell”, but it means something completely different.

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10

Whom

Why isn’t it “Whom let the dogs out”? The extra letter does not turn a regular “who” into a fancy version of itself.

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11

Apostrophes

When coming from a language that doesn’t normally use them, where to put apostrophes can seem confusing.

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12

I vs me

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.

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13

Good vs well

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.

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14

Looking forward

When you’re excited about something, tell others what that thing is. On its own, you’re only saying half an expression otherwise.

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15

Gender-neutral pronouns

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.

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16

Please

We have been taught to always say please and thank you. Whether they are right for a situation depends on the context.

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17

Each other

Some actions happen to multiple people at once, like running into someone. In these situations, we need to use reciprocal pronouns.

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18

Do

Other languages don’t always use the auxillary “do” as much as the English language does, so it’s often lost in translation.

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