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False friends in the English language: Gross, Grand or Great? - 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 are 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. Here we are looking at Gross, Grand and Great and using vineyards as our topic for discussion. IDEAL have a specialist English for Agribusiness course that teaches English to executives in the agriculture and crop industry.

Exercise: fill in the gaps by choosing from these words: important / big / gross / grand / great or grandest / greatest / biggest / most important / grossest

British vineyards are generally small, and the number of vineyards in Great Britain is not ………. There is not enough land to grow on a ….… scale. If we look at the …….. national product, wine is not …….. business. But I have a/an …..… affection for England, so I chose to grow grapes here. After 30 years, I am the owner of a 253-hectare estate: the ………. British vineyard, but we do not produce the ………. number of grapes.

In England grapes do not grow as ………… as those on the continent. The climate is different. There is a/an ……….. deal of rain. This means we must take ……… care to prevent disease.

Some say Dom Perignon was the ……… winemaking inventor of the 18th century. Others say this is a ………. error, because an Englishman called Christopher Merrett perfected the secondary fermentation of wine in 1638.

 

What does gross mean in English?

Gross means unacceptable, rude or disgusting. Gross misconduct is faute grave / das Amtsvergehen. Gross indecency is a crime involving improper relations. Gross negligence is a serious offence. In fact, any gross language or behaviour is generally undesirable.

Gross doesn’t mean big, except when referring to money or assets. The gross price is le prix brut, das Bruttopreis. In bulk? En gros.

 

What does grand mean in English?

Grand means impressively big.

Celebrity parties are planned on a grand scale. Size impresses.

‘Grand’ is different from ‘great’. Grand achievements? They are impressive.

But great achievements are genuinely commendable, usually results of hard work.

I have a great love of ballet. ‘Great’ describes strong feeling here.

 

What does important mean in English? 

Significant.

Important discoveries in science bring changes in understanding.

A VIP will usually travel first class.

If someone mentions an important number I reach for my diary to write it down – it’s probably a telephone number, or entrance code. An important number is not a great number. A great number of people spend a great deal of time at the computer.

Remember: Large means big, not wide.

Avoid gross (unless it’s appropriate).

 

So how did you do?

British vineyards are generally small, and the number of vineyards in Great Britain is not great. There is not enough land to grow on a grand scale. If we look at the gross national product, wine is not big business. But I have a great affection for England, so I chose to grow grapes here. After 30 years, I am the owner of a 253-hectare estate: the biggest British vineyard, but we do not produce the greatest number of grapes.

In England grapes do not grow as big as those on the continent. The climate is different. There is a great deal of rain. This means we must take great care to prevent disease.

Some say Dom Perignon was the great winemaking inventor of the 18th century. Others say this is a gross error, because an Englishman called Christopher Merrett perfected the secondary fermentation of wine in 1638.

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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