Use an online translator and your life will not be worth living…trust me. Machines are incapable of detecting the nuances in language. Take for example the English idiom ‘to rain cats and dogs’. Typing the infinitive form into google translate it tells me that the Spanish translation is ‘a llover gatos y perros.’ As you can see, it is not capable of recognising the difference between ‘to’ as part of the infinitive and ‘to’ the preposition. To get the correct translation I have to use the base form of the verb (infinitive without to), which rather defeats the object of using a translator to work more speedily.
However, a translator friend taught me a way you can use technology to your advantage. Often when we are writing we doubt things such as our use of prepositions. This week the word ‘apart’ came up in our Use of English paper. Classes were divided over whether it was ‘of’ or ‘from’. If you type ‘apart of’ into your search engine you get 329,000,000 results, while typing ‘apart from’ you get 1,010,000,000. The correct option will get the most results like ‘apart from’ has clearly done.
This is obviously not an alternative to recording vocabulary nicely in your notebook, which I’m sure you all do religiously. It is a handy hint for checking quickly when you haven’t got the time to trawl through forums.