English tip: actual/actually

fev 23, 2011 No Comments by

For my first post I’ve decided to write about a false cognate which students often confuse: actual/actually – they’re not atual or atualmente in Portuguese. Here are some examples from Cambridge Grammar of English.

Actual and actually refer to whether something is true or factual. They do not refer to time:

  • They went into a restaurant … or it was actually a café. (it was in fact/in reality a café)
  • I’m not really sure about the actual procedure.(This means ‘the right/correct procedure’; if the meaning had been ‘the procedure that is used now’, the speaker would have said I’m not really sure about the present/current procedure, or I’m not really sure about the procedure now/nowadays.)
  • She’s actually working for a computer firm.(This means something like ‘She is in fact working for a computer firm’, or ‘Surprisingly, she is working for a computer firm’, depending on the context; if we mean ‘She is at the present time working for a computer firm’, we would say She’s working for a computer firm at the moment/(right)now.)
  • Actual: exato; verdadeiro; propriamente dito
  • Actually:  na verdade, de fato; exatamente

Here are some possible Portuguese translations – remember to always analyze the context!

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