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Grammatik auf Englisch - Sprachliche Stolperfallen erkennen

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Sprachliche Stolperfallen erkennen

There are a few dark corners of the English language every native German speaker fears. For some reason, even after being corrected, the rules just don’t seem to want to ‘stick’. These beasties love to rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune moments, leaving one feel like one has just made oneself look really stupid. Thankfully this is just a feeling, and the good news is it can be completely eliminated with a little effort and practice. Here are some of the more irritating pitfalls.

Anything, something, nothing, or everything?

It pays little to try to learn what sounds right here. Developing an ear for which of these words is correct in which context can take years. Having a good understanding of the meaning of each word, however, gives you the correct solution every time. Example:

Can I help you with __________ at this time?

Many German speakers would use the word something, but that’s incorrect.

Here are the shades of meaning:
everything: all things
nothing: no single thing
anything: a thing of any kind
something: a thing that is unknown

Now the example again, with the context:

Can I help you with ( a thing of any kind ) at this time? = anything

Take a look at these examples and map the usage to the meaning for each word. Try to develop a concrete understanding of when to use each word.

Did you look in the drawer? Yes, but I didn’t find anything there.
If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.
You can serve anything. I have no special wishes.
Do you have something I could put over my chair during the construction work to protect it from dust?
Everyone should bring something to eat.
Did the doctor give you something for that cough?
Did you bring everything we need?
I think I’ve taken everything into account.
There’s really nothing you can say to apologize for that insensitive remark.
Nothing is more important than a commitment to quality.


Like or as?
Translating wie can be problematic if you don’t know the rule. It’s not based on sound, but rather on grammatical construction.

Use like if you are comparing something to a noun or noun phrase. The static verbs be, seem, look, and act are common in this context:

They served something that looked like chicken.
Mark seems more like a senior manager.
My husband is a lot like my first boyfriend.
My office mate acts like a child in kindergarten sometimes.


Like is also correct before a gerund:

Talking with Sarah is like talking to a brick wall.

Use as if you are comparing something to a clause ( of any length ). The meaning is usually in the manner:

The new director acts more as an entry-level employee would.
Susan is as smart as a fox.
Everyone on the team thinks as we do.


When neither seems right, you might need in a similar way:

In Russia, the people in the north speak in a similar way to the people in the south.

Ashamed or embarrassed?
Are you embarrassed by your behaviour, or are you ashamed of your behaviour?

The difference is one of context. If you feel bad about something you have done that is ethically or morally wrong, then you are ashamed:

I’m ashamed of my unethical behaviour last night.
I’m ashamed that I lied about it.


Breaching etiquette is not as serious as breaking an ethical or moral code. In this case, embarrass is correct:

Martha was embarrassed by her husband’s lewd behaviour.
Martin was embarrassed because he was told to return the products he caused so many problems to get.
You could tell our CEO was embarrassed by her constant sneezing during the presentation.


Lose or loose?
These words look the same, but they have completely unrelated meanings.

Loose refers to something that is not fastened into a given place, is not pulled tight, or is unattached to other things.

Could we stop for a moment? I have a loose shoestring.
You’ll find a few loose keys at the bottom of my desk drawer.
A woman who goes from boyfriend to boyfriend on a regular basis is often called a loose woman.

( Yes, that last usage is sexist, but it is not an uncommon one. And it’s unfair: men may go from girlfriend to girlfriend, but they are never referred to as loose. )

Lose is a verb used when you are in the process of having less of something, when you stop having something, when you no longer have something, or when you misplace something:

My son loses a tooth every week.
I think I’m losing my mind.
Don’t lose your temper when I tell you what Gillian said, OK?
We’ve been playing hardball with the competition for two years now, and we’re losing.

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Sprachliche Stolperfallen erkennen

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