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False friends in the English language: Order, demand or command? - Ideal English Language Courses

False friends are common errors in language learning. They occur when two similar words have different meanings across two languages, particularly languages that is close to their mother tongue.

In our False Friends blog series, we identify common false friends amongst French and German language learners that we frequently encounter when teaching our English Language Courses to French and German executives.

Order, demand or command? Or is it just ‘ask or tell’?

I ordered / commanded / demanded / asked for the soup of the day at a top restaurant. The soup was cold. I was surprised, because the chef was famous; he commands / demands / orders / asks for a lot of respect in the haute-cuisine community.

So I demanded / commanded / ordered / asked to see the manager, who demanded / commanded / asked /ordered me what was wrong.

“This soup is cold! You have poisoned me! I order / demand / command / ask for an apology!’ I shouted, “What a terrible restaurant!”

“Sorry, madam,” he said, very quietly. Calmly he ordered / told / commanded / asked / demanded me to look at the menu.

My dish was described as Gazpacho: iced tomato and cucumber soup.

 

What does ‘demand’ mean in English?

Demand = need, require.

Examples:

Give me that! I demand it!

Corn demands a lot of water. (No conditions.)

Recovery from an injury demands patience.

A baby does not ask for care, it demands it.

“I demand a recount!” cried the Democratic candidate, “The result was fixed!”

A final demand is the last bill, the red one.

Supply and demand is the market theory of economics that looks at the match between what people want and what businesses supply.

Payment on demand = pay when we say pay!

The French demander and German fragen = ASK

 

What does ‘command’ mean in English?

Command comes from the top. It is supreme. No questions.

To order means to issue commands according to rules, or a plan.

In French commander does not mean command, but the German kommandieren does mean command.

An example is the ten commandments: honour your parents! don’t kill! don’t steal!…

 

What does ‘order’ mean in English?

‘To order’ can mean ordonner in French and anordnen in German.

Examples:

“Order these files according to date!”

However, we avoid using the verb because the noun is more common:

Arrange the children in order of height!

But the doctor’s orders: take these tablets and go to bed.

 

Or order can mean classify.

For example, it’s in working order = C’est en état de marche = Es funktioniert.

 

To conclude:

You can’t command a hamburger.

You can demand a hamburger, but you will not be popular with the chef. You can order one, if you can pay for it.

If you have no money, you can ask for a hamburger, but do not expect to get one.

 

Some easily-made errors:

The doctor ordered prescribed me some aspirin.

The priest was ordained in the cathedral.

This button commands controls the volume.

 

So, did you get it right?

I ordered the soup of the day at a top restaurant. The soup was cold. I was surprised, because the chef was famous; he commands a lot of respect in the haute-cuisine community.

So I demanded to see the manager, who asked me what was wrong.

“This soup is cold! You have poisoned me! I demand an apology!’ I shouted, “What a terrible restaurant!”

“Sorry, madam,” he said, very quietly. Calmly he asked me to look at the menu.

My dish was described as Gazpacho: iced tomato and cucumber soup.

 

Ideal Courses

We have been teaching English to European business executives from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Russia for fifteen years. Clients include Syngenta, Commerzbank, Deka Bank, Fraunhof Institut and Pfizer. We have a 100% client return rate, which means that every company that has sent an employee, has sent another based on the high standards of our teaching and hospitality.

Our General and Business English Course, Agribusiness English course and Business English Workshops are all based on individual needs and a proven and effective teaching methodology. To find out more information, browse our English language courses here.

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