The difference between “currently” and “presently”

Many people – native English speakers included – are confused by the word “presently”.

In UK English it has traditionally been a formal, literary word which means “in a short time”, “soon” or “before long” – in contrast to “currently”, which means “at the present time”.

Here are some examples:

Please hold the line, I’ll be with you presently.
i.e. Please don’t put the phone down, I have to do something else right now and I’ll talk to you again in a short time.

I’m sorry Angela isn’t here yet, but she just called us and we’re expecting her to arrive presently.
i.e. “soon”

They drove through the forest. Presently they came to a small town, where they pulled up at a petrol station.
i.e. “before long”

However, because “presently” has an obvious close association with the word “present”, people tend to use it to mean “at the present time”, “currently”. This usage is likely to be considered incorrect by conservative speakers of UK English – as in this example:

WRONG
We are presently experiencing problems with the internet connection in the London office.

RIGHT
We are currently experiencing problems with the internet connection in the London office.

BUT…

In US English, it is correct to use “presently” as a synonym for “currently”. Because of this, some UK English speakers may also find this usage acceptable.

More examples of how to use “currently”:

The price is currently being negotiated.
i.e. the negotiations have started but haven’t finished yet.

The employee started working for the Company in 2015 and is currently employed as Sales Director.
i.e. at the present time the employee works as Sales Director.

Speakers of US English would probably be fine with “presently” being used instead of “currently” in such sentences, but some speakers of UK English might think it incorrect.

 

 

 

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How to translate “termin” (time expression)

The Polish word “termin” can mean a period of time or a point in time.

In English, the word “term” can also mean a period of time or a point in time. But “term” has very specific uses (relating to e.g. school semesters, prison sentences, pregnancy etc.). As a result, in most circumstances “termin” cannot be translated as “term”.

“Termin” usually translates as “closing date”, “deadline”, “time limit”, “date”, “time”, “period” or “duration”, depending on context.

Some examples:

Termin składania wniosków upłynął kilka dni temu.

Mamy świadomość, że wyznaczyliśmy sobie napięty termin.

Może to uczynić przedłużając termin Programu gospodarki odpadami rolnymi.

Termin ważności produktu został podany w ulotce.

Termin ważności pozwolenia budowę

The closing date for the submission of applications passed a few days ago.

We are aware that we have set ourselves a tight deadline.

It can be done by extending the duration of the Agricultural Waste Management Programme.

The product’s expiry date is given in the leaflet.

Validity period of a building permit

Because of the different meanings of “termin”, you should also be careful how you translate the verbs that go with it, such as “ustalić” and “określić” and especially “upływać”.

Examples of how to translate “ustalić / określić termin”

Chciałbym ustalić termin naszego kolejnego spotkania.

Komisja może ustalić termin, w którym grupa powinna dostarczyć opinię lub sprawozdanie.

Proszę zadzwonić do Johna i ustalić termin.

Należy określić termin rozpoczęcia tego obowiązku.

Na każdym posiedzeniu Konferencji Stron należy określić termin i miejsce następnego posiedzenia.

I would like to schedule a date for our next meeting.

The Commission may set a deadline by which the group should deliver an opinion or report.

Please give John a call and arrange a time.

We must establish the starting date for these obligations.

Each sitting of the Conference of the Parties should determine the time and place of the next sitting.

 

How to translate “upływać termin”

Termin upływa w piątek. 

Sentences like this are often incorrectly translated as follows:

The deadline elapses on Friday.
The deadline expires on Friday
.

A deadline is a point in time, not a period of time. Only periods of time, or things that last or are valid for a period of time, can elapse or expire (or lapse, or end).

As they are points in time, deadlines and closing dates can only “be” or “pass”. And we usually use the verb “to be” with them:

The deadline is Friday.
The closing date is on Friday.

If you want to refer to the period of time in which a task must be finished or documentation submitted, you might translate the above sentence as follows:

We have until Friday.  i.e. We have the time between now and Friday to complete the task / submit the documents.

More examples:

Termin ważności leku upływa jeden dzień po podanej na etykiecie dacie odniesienia.

 

 

Termin złożenia naszej propozycji faktycznie upłynął kilka dni temu.

To uprawnienie obowiązuje do upływu terminu ważności prawa jazdy.

The medicine’s expiry date is one day after the reference date indicated on the label.
The medicine’s validity period expires one day after the reference date indicated on the label. 

The deadline for submitting our proposal passed a few days ago.

The right applies until the driving licence expires.

 

Some typical mistakes with “deadline”

WRONG
Please note that the deadline for delivery expires on 21 April 2018 at the latest.

RIGHT
Please note that the deadline for delivery is 21 April 2018.

WRONG
After the expiry of the deadline the Technical Arbitrator will not take into account any documents provided by the Parties.

RIGHT
After the deadline the Technical Arbitrator will not take into account any documents provided by the Parties.

WRONG
As the last day of this deadline falls on a Sunday (20 May), the last day of the deadline will be moved to Monday, 21 May. Following the lapse of this deadline the tender participants will not be able to challenge the outcome of the prequalification directly.

RIGHT
As this deadline falls on a Sunday (20 May), it will be moved to Monday, 21 May. After this deadline the tender participants will not be able to challenge the outcome of the prequalification directly.

 

More examples of how to use “deadline”

If we don’t get a move on we won’t make the deadline.

In order to meet the deadline we will have to divide the work between the three of us.

It’s too late now. We’ve missed the deadline.

 

How to use “time limit”

“Time limit” is used to refer to a period of time.

I have set my students a two-hour time limit to do the task.

The travel pass allows you to use the rail system as much as you like within a certain time limit.

But – we do not usually describe a time limit as starting, ending, expiring or lapsing.

WRONG
The time limit for the Borrower to rescind the agreement starts on the day the Borrower signs the agreement and lapses 14 days later.

Such sentences need to be reworded.

RIGHT
The Borrower may rescind the agreement within 14 days of signing.

Rewording sentences without using the phrase “time limit” is usually possible:

I have set my students two hours to do the task.

The travel pass allows you to use the rail system as much as you like within a certain limited period.

We can, however, talk about “extending” a time limit:

The six-month time limit will be automatically extended by this additional period.

 

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The difference between “practice” and “practise”

In British English – like “licence/license” and “advice/advise” – “practice” is a NOUN and “practise” is a VERB:

NOUN
Safeguarding clients’ personal data should be standard practice in the company.
He has been a lawyer for many years, but he only opened his own practice last month.

Practice makes perfect.”

VERB
If you want to be a professional pianist you must practise for several hours every day.
So you’re a lawyer? When did you start practising?

In American English, however — and in contrast to the rule for “license” — “practice” is used for both the noun and the verb. “Practise” is a less common spelling variant.

 

 

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The difference between “licence” and “license”

“Licence” is the British English NOUN – The bar has received a licence to sell alcohol.

“License” is the British English VERB – We are now licensed to sell alcohol.

You can remember this because it is the same as “advice” (noun) and “advise” (verb). But of course, unlike advice/advise, licence/license are both pronounced the same.

“Licensor” and “Licensee” always have an s.

In American English, however, “license” is used for both the noun and the verb.

You may think this is very sensible, but check out the next tip on “practice” and “practise”.

 

 

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The difference between “prescribe” and “proscribe”

The verbs “prescribe” and “proscribe” are very close in spelling and pronunciation but almost opposites in meaning. Don’t get them confused!

Prescribe” means “stipulate” or “order”. Perhaps the most common usage is in the field of medicine – where a doctor prescribes a course of treatment for a patient.

Proscribe” means “condemn”, “prohibit”, “forbid” or “outlaw”.

So, a doctor could prescribe one course of action while proscribing another: Eat more vegetables. Stop smoking.

“Prescribe” is in common everyday use, but “proscribe” is not commonly used.

Other examples:

Prescribe
The doctor prescribed a course of very strong antibiotics.
The regulations prescribe that employees must undergo an eye examination every five years.

Proscribe
The government has proscribed far right and ultra-nationalist organisations.
Eating pork is proscribed by their religion.

The noun deriving from “prescribe” is “prescription”. A doctor writes you a prescription which you take to the pharmacy in order to buy the prescribed medicine.

“Prescription” also has a specific legal use. It refers to the right to use land owned by another person following continued and regular use of that land without receiving any complaint from the owner for a certain period of time (usually around five years). A claim to such a right is called a “prescriptive claim”.

The noun deriving from “proscribe” is “proscription”. A proscription is a ban or prohibition.

 

 

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How to translate “przedsiębiorca”

“Przedsiębiorca” is usually translated as “entrepreneur”. Although this is one of several possible translations, 99% of the time it is the wrong word.

First of all, look at a Polish definition of “przedsiębiorca”:

Zgodnie z definicją  zawartą w art. 431 kodeksu cywilnego przedsiębiorca to: „osoba fizyczna, osoba prawna i jednostka organizacyjna, która nie jest osobą prawną, a której ustawa przyznaje zdolność prawną, prowadząca we własnym imieniu działalność gospodarczą lub zawodową”.

I have underlined “osoba prawna i jednostka organizacyjna, która nie jest osobą prawną” because the key difference between “przedsiębiorca” and “entrepreneur” is that “przedsiębiorca” includes this meaning while “entrepreneur” does not.

“Przedsiębiorca” has a very broad meaning, ranging from an individual natural person who carries out economic activity to a large company.

In contrast, “entrepreneur” has a very narrow meaning. It only means an individual natural person who carries out economic activity – and is usually used to describe businessmen who built successful businesses with a great deal of initiative and risk-taking. So Steve Jobs was an entrepreneur, Virgin’s Richard Branson is an entrepreneur, Tesla’s Elon Musk is an entrepreneur, Jan Kulczyk was an entrepreneur.

If you use “przedsiebiorca” to refer to an entity rather than an individual natural person, then you cannot use “entrepreneur”.

Instead you should use one of the following, which may depend on the context. I find “business entity” is usually the best-fit:

            business entity
            enterprise
            company
            business
            economic operator
            business operator
            operator
            business venture
            undertaking

Translate rejestr przedsiębiorców as “companies register”, NOT “register of entrepreneurs”.

 

 

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The difference between “commitment” and “commission” (and “committee” and “committal”)

The verb “commit” has numerous related noun forms: commitment, commission, committal and committee. Many people – native English speakers included – do not know all the differences between them.

A criminal “commits a crime”. But we cannot talk about the “commitment of a crime”. Instead we say “commission of a crime”.

We use the word “commitment” to describe something that you have to do or something that requires time and responsibility – i.e. something you have promised to do or have to do due to, e.g., work or family reasons. We can talk about “family commitments” or “work commitments”.

When we promise to do something or take on a responsibility, we “make a commitment”.

For example: I’d like a dog, but it would be such a commitment, and I simply don’t have the time.

This usage of the noun is countable.

If you “show commitment” you demonstrate that you are willing to do something.

For example, an employer might include the following in a reference about a former employee: David is a very diligent worker and showed enormous commitment to the job.

This usage of the noun is uncountable.

 

The word “commission” can be a noun and a verb.

We can talk about the “commission of an offence/murder” as well as a crime.

A “commission” can be a request to do a piece of work or carry out an activity: We’ve got a commission to investigate allegations of corruption.

As a verb, “commission” has the same meaning: I’ve been commissioned to write a series of articles on alternative energy sources.

A “commission” can be a fee for an agent to carry out certain work: As a sales rep I don’t earn a salary, I get a 20% commission on each sale.

A “commission” can also be a group of people appointed and given the power (i.e. commissioned) to perform certain tasks.

 

A “committee” is also a group of people, but differs from a commission in that its members are representatives of a parent body. A committee makes decisions on behalf of the parent body.

 

A “committal” is an act of entrusting something or someone to the care of another person. So, for example, you can have a committal of property to an attorney, or a committal of a person to a mental health institution. In the latter case we talk about someone being committed to an institution.

 

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