potter

Por Nick Potter

In  this series we look at real-life examples of the most common mistakes in English by native Spanish lawyers. These and lots more invaluable tips are available in a new e-book/paperback, here: 50 English Tips for Spanish Professionals.

defend, pretend

Those false friends just keep coming – and not just on social media.

Let’s look at two terms commonly used by lawyers – defender and pretender.

Unfortunately defender in Spanish doesn’t always mean defend.

In which of A – C below is “defend” used correctly?

AWe sent a letter to the CNE defending that they needed authorisation
BThe government defended its actions
CWe are defending that no joint control over the company exists

 

In English the verb “to defend” is only used with an object:

  • The firm defended its policy
  • We shall defend our island
  • A lawyer who defends political prisoners

Or, no object:

  • Nottingham Forest forced Real Madrid to defend (I like to fantasise).

So only B is correct. In A and C defender means to argue:

AWe sent a letter to the CNE defending arguing that they needed authorisation
BThe government defended its actions [CORRECT]
CWe are defending arguing that there is no joint control over the company

A common mistake is to translate para defender que as “to defend that”. “Defend” and “that” do not go together, unless “that” means esa/ese or aquel/aquello/aquella and refers to an object e.g. it’s impossible to defend that performance by the team.

Translate para defender que as to argue that (something is the case). Other possibilities: to support that or (to courts or other authorities) to plead that.

Now let’s look at when you shouldn’t “pretend” to do things.

Pretender, according to the Royal Academia Española, means:

  1. tr. Querer ser o conseguir algo.
  2. tr. Hacer diligencias para conseguir algo.
  3. tr. Dicho de una persona: Cortejar a otra.

Pretend, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means:

  1. [with clause or infinitive] behave so as to make it appear that something is the case when in fact it is not.
  2. [no object] (pretend to) lay claim to (a quality or title).

Question: Which of A – C below is correct?

AThey pretended to be asleep
BThey pretend to include the accrued property tax (IBI) in the new amounts claimed
CThe company pretends to exercise the option as soon as possible once the Offer is settled

A is correct – they were not asleep, but they pretended to be (pretend here means fingir in Spanish).

B and C are wrong – pretender has been mistranslated because it refers to intention:

AThey pretended to be asleep [CORRECT]
BThey pretend intend to include the accrued property tax (IBI) in the new amounts claimed
CThe company pretends intends to exercise the option as soon as possible once the Offer is settled

Note: You can see a correct translation of pretender on a daily basis, at the end of emails that you receive:

Spanish: Si usted no es el destinatario al que se pretende hacer llegar esta comunicación

English: If you are not the intended recipient of this email…

 

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