Welcome to my latest article in this series. Click here for the last article.


Once again, I am going to cover some issues that have cropped up in recent translations that we have checked, and once again there may be some crossover with previous articles, since unfortunately there are some errors that do crop up particularly often. I suggest, too, that if these issues catch you out frequently it might be helpful to reread my earlier articles.


Firstly, a problem that is seemingly minor, but will lose you marks if you don’t pay attention, is formatting. In particular, if you add extra line spaces. This is very easy to do inadvertently when you are using the Gengo workbench and you add an extra space at the end of a segment. If you are prone to doing this, I suggest hitting delete at the end of each segment when you check your translation before submitting it – any invisible extra spaces will then be eliminated.


The other thing I wish to say about formatting is that when you are translating in Word or any other file format, you should remember to copy the format of the original as far as possible, including font type and size, indentations and spacing, bold and italic where required, and anything else that relates to formatting. In Word and Excel, for instance, it is very simple to type over the original document to ensure that the formatting is correct.


My next point is that you should be consistent in your translation. This applies not just to terminology but things like capitalization. If a German text has bullet points, for instance, do not follow the German example of using a capital for each noun and a small letter in other cases: start every line with either a capital letter or a small letter and stick with the same format throughout: if you are using small letters, only make an exception if the first word is a proper noun (a name).


You may have noticed the word Dialect in square brackets within a comment made recently. This means that you have used (as this suggests) the wrong word for the particular variety of English. For instance




is used in GB English and


zip or zip code


in US English for the German




Please always be aware of the version of English you are translating into and use the correct term.


Next, I want to mention a new subject. This is the difference between which and what in certain sentences.


Consider this sentence:


(German) Was steckt wirklich im Mückenspray?


And the translation that was given:


(English) Which ingredients are really contained in bug spray?


My comment on this was that the word “which” should have been replaced with “what”. Why is this? Because in English “which” can only be used if you are looking at a specific selection of ingredients, while “what” encompasses any option. So if you are presented with a list of possible ingredients, and the question is “which of these ingredients can be found in a bug spray”, then “which” is obviously correct. In all other cases, use “what”.


Finally, a word that I used in the previous paragraph was “so”. This word is in general used very differently in English from the German “so”. And the translation is not always the same. When I was first in Germany it was explained to me by a friend, when I translated the English “I do it like this” literally, that “like this” is, in German, simply “so”. But given this example from a recent translation:


(German) Vlog so reise ich


although the translation is rather ambiguous, because the German is not perfectly constructed, possible options are


(English) Vlog on the way I travel




(English) Vlog, that’s how I travel


While in this case:


(German) aber so war der Film echt sehr schön


“so” could be translated as:


(English) as it was


or something similar that conveys this meaning.


Linguee gives about 14 examples of different translations for the German so into English. One of these is actually “so”. But this is possibly the least commonly used option, therefore be prepared to think about the correct word or phrase to use.


As usual, I do encourage you to ask questions or start a discussion of any of the topics I have raised here. It would be good to know that you are taking my points on board, and all comments are welcome.




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