Mistakes with false cognates are far too common among English learners.
False cognates—words that are the same/similar between different languages, but have different meanings—are always tricky [deceitful] for language learners.
The mistake of using present instead of introduce is made by almost every English learner, especially in business settings, where we make acquaintance of new people all the time. But even if you don’t work in business, you can be better than almost every other English learner by not confusing these two words!
I’ve noticed this error being made a lot while living in Portugal and speaking English 90% of the time in a business setting with non-native speakers.
That’s why in this quick lesson, I’m going to show you the difference between these two terms, so you can start using them both correctly.
Learners usually incorrectly use present instead of introduce because present is very close to the verb used for introductions in Latin languages (like Portuguese and Spanish).
Below are the most commonly used definitions of these words in English.
Present: to formally give an award or a gift
Introduce: to make one person known to another person
So, anytime you want to say that you came to know someone through someone else, or that you connected two people, you should use the word introduce, NOT present.
Let’s look at a few examples to help clarify the differences.
He’s going to introduce me to the head of the company (NOT He is going to present me to the head of the company)
I introduced myself to the prettiest girl at the party (NOT I presented myself to the prettiest girl at the party)
Yes, I know him. I will introduce you. (NOT Yes, I know him. I will present you).
- Also: Yes I know him. I will make an introduction.
They will present me with the award for most creative costume.
Leonardo was finally presented with an Oscar this year.
Exception: Present can also mean: To formally introduce (someone) to someone else. However, this use is rare (to me, it sounds like it should be used at a fancy ball with nobility or in Game of Thrones). A couple examples of how this definition of present would be used are below.
May I present my wife, Carla? (or may I introduce you to my wife, Carla?)
“May I present my honored guests? Viserys of House Targaryen, the third of his name. The rightful King of the Andals and the First Men. And his sister, Daenerys, of the House Targaryen.” (GoT, S1E1) (or may I introduce you to my honored guests…)
Speak English Confidently
Now you know exactly how to use these two verbs and can confidently put them to use.
If you want to speak English well, it is crucial to understand the difference between false-cognates, so that you don’t go around confusing people or giving the wrong meaning.
It can be challenging, but be sure to watch people’s reactions–for example, if they get confused when you use certain words. When you notice a false-cognate, take note, and practice using the correct word, so you don’t repeat the same error.
Did you enjoy this article? Have other confusions in English that you would like me to clarify? Let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear your opinion.