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?

A We sent a letter to the CNE defending that they needed authorisation
B The government defended its actions
C We 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:

A We sent a letter to the CNE defending arguing that they needed authorisation
B The government defended its actions [CORRECT]
C We 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?

A They pretended to be asleep
B They pretend to include the accrued property tax (IBI) in the new amounts claimed
C The 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:

A They pretended to be asleep [CORRECT]
B They pretend intend to include the accrued property tax (IBI) in the new amounts claimed
C The 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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