Advanced Dunglish… the blog

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0.5 tons

English use of plurals with numeric (decimal) fractions is peculiar, particularly in the spoken form.

Symbol for an average

There isn’t one in English. However, German and Dutch speakers sometimes misuse the technical one for “diameter” because the word is the same.

Making do

Making a jigsaw in English would mean cutting the puzzle pieces out, not putting them together. One of many occasions where Dutch uses “make” but English prefers “do”.

Water monsters

No, we’re not talking Nessie or ichthyosaurs: a water monster in Dutch also has a second, more common and prosaic meaning: a water sample.

Security and safety

Dutch authors can be a bit woolly about security (protection against threats) and safety (eliminating risks and hazards), or blur the lines between them.

The Dunning-Kruger effect

Applicable to many people’s opinion of how good their English is: the cognitive bias of overestimating your skills because you aren’t fully aware of your shortcomings.

Insulation and isolation

Both are ‘isolatie’ in Dutch, so it can cause confusion. Especially as there are cases where both get used in English (e.g. electrics).

Scooters and mopeds

A scooter is usually more of a child’s unpowered toy, whereas a moped has a small internal combustion engine.


A twin is a single person, who happens to have been born alongside another. That’s different from Dutch, in which “a twin” refers to the identical twosome.


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