False Friends: Control v Manage
Congratulations on your embarrassment!
Confused? The Spanish word for pregnancy sounds like the English word embarrassed. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Found a word that sounds the same in English and your native language? Beware — you may have stumbled upon a false friend, the bane of multicultural content writers everywhere. At best, they make your English as clear as mud. At worst, they are downright embarrassing.
Also known as cognates, false friends are verbs, nouns and phrases that look or sound similar in English and your native language, but actually mean something completely different.
Even automated spell checkers won’t help you in these situations, because the words are spelled correctly.
But never fear, I’ve put together a guide of the biggest howlers out there. Read on for the first false friend of this series.
Control Versus Manage
Incorrect: I controlled their work
Correct: I managed their work.
No-one likes a micromanager overlooking every little thing that you do. But if you use the verb ‘to control’ instead of ‘to manage’ or ‘to supervise’, you risk looking like a control freak!
In some languages, the verb ‘to control’ is used for supervising or managing someone or something.
However, in English it means to order or limit something or someone’s actions or behaviour. If you say you are controlling their work, it means that you are making them perform their work a certain way.
In fact, in English when you say someone is controlling, it means that they are domineering.
So next time you want to use the word ‘control’ in English, think: do I mean supervising or managing instead?
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