English words that don’t translate - Wannalisn

English words that don’t translate

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Here at Wannalisn we love to talk about all of the different things that you’ll find useful along your English-learning journey, and today’s topic is something we are sure you’ll find super interesting!

Have you ever noticed that some English words are just impossible to translate into your own native language? That’s because there are some English words that don’t have an exact translation into other languages. 

Of course, each language is different, so some words may translate into some languages but not into others and vice-versa. There are also some cases in which we can find similar words or synonyms in our native languages, opting to use them in translation when we need to talk about a certain topic.

Whatever the case, today we are going to be learning some everyday English words that you may not find in your own language, and if you do happen to have them in your own language – you are one lucky student!


Sulk (verb)

This means to be silent, morose, and bad-tempered out of annoyance or disappointment. 

It is often used to refer to children who are grumpy or miserable, normally because something didn’t go their way or because they didn’t get what they want.

Sometimes, telling someone that they are ‘sulking’ may be a little offensive, as you are implying that they are feeling a certain way over no good reason, or it can also be understood that you are letting on that they are acting like a child.


Silly (adjective)

Silly is a jovial adjective that basically means foolish. It is a more light-hearted ‘insult’ that isn’t normally taken too seriously nor causes offense. 

Some people think that silly is a synonym for idiot or stupid, but in reality silly is a much more child-friendly adjective. It is often used in everyday contexts and has a playful ring to it.


Scroll (verb)

The verb scroll is one that is used on a daily basis noways, and it basically means ‘move displayed text or graphics in a particular direction on a screen in order to view different parts of them’ – Basically, when we are swiping upwards on our phones to display more information, this is called ‘scrolling’.

For example, we normally scroll on sites like Facebook or Instagram, when we are looking at the different images and videos displayed to us on our homepage. When we continue to browse the many graphics popping up on our feed by moving up and down, we are scrolling.


Awkward (adjective)

We use the adjective awkward to define a situation that can make us feel uneasy embarrassment or inconvenience. This is normally in unexpected contexts or in situations that you aren’t sure how to react to. We also use awkward to define moments that can make us feel a little tense or unsure about how to act or react to something. 

This is definitely an everyday adjective that is used frequently in all kinds of situations and contexts.


Fortnight (noun)

In British English, people use the word fortnight to refer to a period of two weeks. From its spelling and sound, you may have thought that it meant four nights, but in fact it refers to two whole weeks. 

You may never use this one yourself, but it sure will come in handy if you travel to the UK!


Spam (noun)

The word spam is used to refer to unsolicited or unwanted messages that you receive via email in most cases. These messages or emails are usually commercial messages that are sent in bulk to a large number of recipients to try to reach as many people as possible.

Although the most common form of spam is via email, these messages can also be sent via text or social media too. 


Can these words be translated correctly into your language? If not, what similar options do you have?

Make sure to take a note of these words and try to incorporate some of them into your everyday vocabulary and get practicing! 

If you want an easy, fun way to practice everyday English vocabulary used in context and with exercises to test you along the way, download our FREE Wannalisn app by clicking right here.

If you want to check out the best method to learn Phrasal Verbs in English too, check out our latest post here.

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