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viernes, 6 de marzo de 2015

English Tips for Spanish Lawyers (iii) “relevant & eventual”

Por Nick Potter

In this series we look at real-life examples of the most common mistakes in English by native Spanish lawyers – and how you can avoid them. These and loads more invaluable tips are available in my e-book / paperback, 50 English Tips for Spanish Professionals.

relevant and eventual


What are false friends?


Well, some words or expressions in one language look similar to those in another. So they probably mean the same thing, right? Very often, they do not. To give an everyday example, a Spaniard who is constipado and tells English colleagues that he is “constipated” might wonder why they are looking at him strangely or offering a cereal bar. Constipated means estreñido, you see. Constipado means having a cold.

Let’s look at a couple of lawyers’ biggest false friends.

We’ll start with relevant / relevante.


1. adj. Sobresaliente, destacado.

2. adj. Importante, significativo.

In which of A – D below is the English word relevant used correctly?

A Business research needs to be more relevant for managers
B If we are instructed in a relevant international deal, the increase of the current revenues would be relevant
C A relevant number of toll roads built since 2000 are insolvent and face nationalisation
D If the fees payable to the third party contractors under these agreements are relevant, the Service Provider shall obtain the Company’s prior approval

In English, relevant means related or pertinent. The closest Spanish word is pertinente.

Relevante can mean notable, outstanding (meaning 1 above) or, more often, important, significant, major, considerable or material (meaning 2).

So only A is correct because it refers to the need for business research to be more pertinente to managers’ needs.

In B – D, what was relevante in Spanish could be translated as follows:

A Business research needs to be more relevant for managers [CORRECT]
B If we are instructed in a relevant major / important international deal, the increase of the in* current revenues would be relevant considerable
C A relevant An important / a significant / a considerable number of toll roads built since 2000 are insolvent and face nationalisation
D If the fees payable to the third party contractors under these agreements are relevant significant / material, the Service Provider shall obtain the Company’s prior approval
*Another for your “preposition” files – increases are in, not of!

The most dangerous false friends are those that not only have a different meaning - they can have the opposite meaning


Take eventual in Spanish.

In which of the following is the English word eventual used correctly?

A This is to avoid eventual complaints from customers in the interim period
B We do not have information on eventual inspections by the SEPBLAC in recent years

In English, eventual and eventually refer to what will happen at the end of a process or time (final, finalmente in Spanish).

Some examples of correct usage of eventual:

Ø The combination of a currency link and weak economic policies doomed Greece to its eventual crisis.
Ø Eventual inflation is inevitable.
Ø Deal paves way for eventual IPO. [Here, the IPO (salida a bolsa) is something expected to happen at the end of a process started by the deal].

Both A and B are wrong because what was eventual in Spanish refers to something possible, not eventual. Describing the complaints or inspections as eventual suggests that they will happen, or did happen, at the end of a process or time. This is the opposite to the intended meaning because there may be no complaints and there may have been no inspections.

So in these and many other cases, translate eventual as possible:

A This is to avoid eventual possible complaints from customers in the interim period
B We do not have information on eventual possible inspections by the SEPBLAC in recent years

Don’t worry too much about false friends, there are only a few thousand more…

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