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False Friends in English for Job Interviews

There are few situations in life that are as scary and exciting as job interviews. Things get even more complicated when you have to face an interview in another language! The fear of talking about ourselves in front of a stranger who is waiting to judge each of our words and expressions is accompanied by the lack of command of the language we are being interviewed in, the possibility of misunderstandings, of not expressing ourselves well enough, and the notorious danger of tripping over false friends. Now, you must be wondering, what are false friends?

False friends are those expressions that look or sound similar to words in your mother tongue, but that have a completely different meaning. In English, these are often words with a Latin origin that, over time, have either taken on a different meaning than the original word or that have evolved differently than in other languages. Unfortunately, at times not even vocabulary can completely correct the misunderstandings caused by misusing false friends, since literal translations often lack some of the nuance that is very important when we speak. One single word can be translated in many different ways, which can trick even the most experienced reader. Another problem that can arise are those words that turn out to be half false friends: they have the same meaning, but only in certain contexts. In those cases, not making embarrassing errors becomes really difficult!

ABA English is here to help you. It is true that these insidious words seem numerous and hard to remember, but, with a bit of preparation and practice, we can face job interviews with confidence and determination. Let’s take a look at some of the most common false friends that can arise during a job interview in English. Because false friends vary by language, it is impossible to make a list of false friends that apply to every language. The three false friends that follow apply to Italian, Spanish, and French.

False Friend 1: Sensible

You would like to transmit the idea that you are an empathetic person, but be careful not to trip over the wrong adjective! Sensible in English means prudent. It is spelled the same as “sensible” in many other Romance languages, where it means “sensitive.” Sensible is not a bad word in English, but it could make you seem a bit presumptuous. Instead of using the false friend sensible, try using sensitive instead. It is more delicate and literally means “sensitive” and “attentive to detail.”

False Friend 2: Actually

The word actually does not mean currently. Instead it means “in reality,” which gives it an affirming and reinforcing value. If you would like to speak about an event or a condition that is being experienced today, the correct translation would be currently or at the moment.

False Friend 3: Consistent

The English word consistent has roots in the Latin word consistente. Nevertheless, the two words have an entirely different meaning. Consistente in other Romance languages, in line with the Latin original, means compact or solid. Instead, consistent in English means “constant” or “coherent.” It is an excellent adjective to use if you want to convey an image of yourself as a reliable person who is coherent in their ideas.

Watch out! There are other very common false friends that could confuse you. The above examples are only some of the many false friends that you can run across during an interview in English. As we said before, the secret to not falling into their trap is good preparation, like that which an online English course can offer. That is why ABA English offers 144 English grammar video classes that you can try for free, as well as several short films. Why wait? Prepare yourself for a successful interview! Start today!

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