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Grammar Guru: Needless or needlessly?

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Last week, 9 out of 11 chose “take a break” over “make a break”. In German “Let’s take a break” is “Machen wir doch mal eine Pause.” When pairs of words in different languages are very similar but have different meanings, they are called “false friends”. Similar collocations (or word partnerships) don’t always mean the same thing, either: We can “make a clean break“, e.g. at the end of a relationship, to keep things from getting messy when the love is gone (wörtl.: einen glatten Bruch machen, eindeutig Schluß machen). “Make” changes the meaning of the phrase completely.

This week, decide which two sentences are correct:

  • Many emails are needless.
  • Many emails are needlessly.
  • Many emails are written needless.
  • Many emails are written needlessly.
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