All posts by Martin

How to pronounce interpret

This week’s seminar speaker (German, but currently working in the US) made several interesting pronunciation mistakes. Most notably, he kept pronouncing the verb interpret so incorrectly that I did not even recognize it immediately. To understand what went wrong, we best look at the phonetic spelling. The are actually several pronunciations of interpret that are

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Can you really count to five?

I’m quite sure that even people who are not very confident about their English in general would not hesitate to claim that they can of course count to five. However, if you take pronunciation into consideration, this is not be true for many of them. (This post was inspired by an announcement I recently heard

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Monotonic/monotone vs. monotonous

At a physics conference I attended last week in Berlin, I came across yet another example of tricky distinctions to master. Several speakers confused the words monotonic or monotone with monotonous. While these words can be used interchangeably in some situations, only monotonic and monotone are correct in a mathematical context. The Oxford online dictionary

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The singular they

The English language makes it relatively easy to write in a gender-neutral way because nouns in general do not have a gender; a gender is only specified when referring to people or animals. Hence, there is only one indefinite article (the) and two definite articles (a or an, see here). Compare this to German, where

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How vs. What

Today I want to address a mistake that is very common among non-native speakers, namely the confusion of how and what … like in forming questions. While I always had a reasonably good intuition when to use which, I learned that there is actually some logic behind it. According to my trusted book Practical English

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To treat vs. to invite

Inspired by a recent stay in a hotel (see picture), let me point out that there is a subtle but important difference in meaning between the verbs treat and invite. The situation is made even trickier by the fact that other languages (in particular German) do not have this distinction. Consider the following two sentences:

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