Writing Solutions | Foreign Expressions Used in English
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-15865,single-format-standard,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-theme-ver-10.1.1,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.0.1,vc_responsive

Foreign Expressions Used in English

Foreign Expressions Used in English

(adapted from the website: www.dailywritingtips.com)

Whether you like it or not, foreign expressions represent an integral part of the English language (and of many other languages, too). Knowing the meaning and usage of the most used ones is very important. First of all because it will enable you to understand pieces of text that include them and secondly because you might also need to use these expressions for particular situations. (However, avoid using them just to sound smart!) Below you will find 6 foreign expressions commonly used in English:

  1. De Facto
    De facto is a Latin expression that means “actual” (if used as an adjective*) or “in practice” (if used as an adverb*). In legal terms, de facto is commonly used in contrast to de jure, which means “by law.” Something, therefore, can emerge either de facto (by practice) or de jure (by law).
    Eg: English is the de facto language of Australia. (This means that although the language has no formal status, English is the language spoken by most citizens of Australia and used for all formal documentation in the country.
  2. Vis-à-Vis
    The literal meaning of this French expression is “face to face” (used as an adverb). However, it is used more widely as a preposition*, meaning “compared with” or “in relation to.”
    Eg: It’s going to be a huge catalyst in moving the whole process forward and it really strengthens the U.S. position vis-a-vis our trading partners. (Yahoo! News).
  3. Status quo
    This famous Latin expression means “the current or existing state of affairs.” If something changes the status quo, it is changing the way things presently are.
    Bush believes that the status quo – the presence in a sovereign country of a militant group with missiles capable of hitting a U.S. ally – is unacceptable. (Washington Post).
  4. Cul-de-sac
    This expression was originated in England by French-speaking aristocrats. Literally it means “bottom of a sack,” but it almost always refers to a dead-end street. Cul-de-sac can also be used metaphorically to express an action that leads to nowhere or an impasse.
    Eg: We had less traffic living on the cul-de-sac, but trouble getting in and out when the street was being repaired. (wiki.answers.com).
  5. Per se
    Per se is a Latin expression that means “by itself” or “intrinsically.”
    Eg: The mistake it made with the Xbox is that there is no game console market per se; there are PlayStation, GameCube, and Xbox markets.(PCMag.com).
  6. Ad hoc
    Ad hoc, borrowed from the Latin, can be used both as an adjective, where it means “formed or created with a specific purpose,” and as an adverb, where it means “for the specific purpose or situation.”
    Eg: The World Bank’s board on Friday ordered an ad hoc group to discuss the fate of President Paul Wolfowitz (CNN).


(*) An ADJECTIVE is a word that qualifies or “describes” a noun.  An ADVERB is a word that qualifies or “describes” a verb. (An adverb can also qualify and adjective or another adverb).