English words you know without ever taking an English class

Why English is important

English is often the easiest option to communicate for people who are from different countries and who speak different languages. In fact, some English words are actually used in foreign languages, between people who speak the same language.

London overview
London - One of the many cities in which you will have to use English

English Words that you already know

I’m Italian, so English is not my native language; as I learned English, it was amazing to discover how many words we use daily that are not originally Italian. Especially with economic and technological words, everything is in English and this means that sometimes the terms doesn’t even exist in Italian! But let’s see some examples from my own country.

Selfie is one of the most-used words while taking picture with your phone. Is there an Italian equivalent? Apparently there is, but to find that out I had to look in the dictionary. The Italian word translates to something like “auto-picture”. In your hashtag, would you rather use selfie or auto-picture? We all know the answer, and that’s why no one uses autoscatto, and selfie has become an Italian word. But not all English words in Italian are related to recent technology.

Poster, for instance, has been used in Italy for decades, and to be honest I was surprised when I discovered that it’s actually an English word! As a matter of fact, we don’t even have an Italian equivalent. A lot of other English words used in Italian have “Italian” equivalents, but it’s been years since they were used commonly, words like brand, business, hotel, hard disk, premier, low cost, scoop, sexy, snob, web or weekend. And this is just to name a few! We have at least a hundred words that we use daily like every other Italian word!

This happens in a lot of languages, not only Italian.

The origin of language is shared

Some other examples

The French equivalent of fun would be “drôle”, which is definitely not as cool as fun. Did I say cool? Because that’s another word used in French as if it were a full-fledged French word, instead of “sympa”. And what about shopping? French people, like Italians, love to go shopping, and in this case the French equivalent would be “faire les magasins” (literally, “do the shops”). There are also: stop, pullover, leggings and parking. Un parking, the French word for a parking lot or carpark, is interesting, in that the English word has been taken and shortened to the point that it would sound strange to an English speaker! Similarly, the French word for shampoo is shampooing.

People from other countries do in fact speak some English, we just don’t know that it’s English we’re speaking. If you know of any other borrowed words that you use in your language, let us know.

Now that you realize you already know some English words, why not consider learning a few more by studying in one of Kaplan schools!

Find out about the 5 most common mistakes non-natives speakers make when speaking English.

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