When we deal with the Contract translation, especially business contracts, it is easier to convey the meaning ambiguous due to inappropriate choice of words. Sometimes express in a totally different meaning.

Therefore it is extremely important to master the distinction of easily confused words, and also which is one of the key factors to improve the quality of the contract translation. There are seven pairs of common and easily confused words, typical examples are given below:

1. “abide by” and “comply with”

“abide by” and “comply with” , the two phrases have the meaning of“遵守”.But when the subject is for “person”,we should use “abide by”. While the subject is “impersonal”,then use “comply with”.

For example: Both parties Shall abide by the contractual stipulations.


All the activities of both parties shall comply with the contractual stipulations.


2. “shipping advice” and “shipping instructions”

shipping advice is “装运通知”,which is send out from exporter to purchaser, while “shipping instructions” is “装运须知”,which is send out from purchaser to exporter. And also we should notice “delivery note” (送货回执) and “delivery order: (交货单),vendor(卖主)and vendee(买主),consignor(发货人)and consignee(收货人). The four pairs are really easy to get wrong.

3. “change A to B” and “change A into B”

“把 A 改为 B” should translated as “change A to B”, while “把 A 折合成/兑换成 B” should be “change A into B”.

For example: 交货期改为 5 月并将人民币折合成美元。

Both parties agree that change the time of shipment to June and change Renminbi into US dollar.

4. ex/per/by

Preposition “ex” and “per” derive from Latin, which have different meaning.

For example: 由“维多利亚”轮运走/运来/承运的最后一批货将于 8 月 10 日抵达伦敦。

The last batch per/ex/by S.S. “Victoria” will arrive at London on 10th August (S.S. = Steamship)

5. “in” and “after”

When express the time “多少天之后” in English, which usually means a exact date. So we should use “in”, not “after”, since “after” are not define a specific date.

For example:该货于 8 月 10 日由“东风”轮运出,41 天后抵达鹿纽约港。

The good shall be shipped per M.V. “Dong Feng” on 10th August and are due to arrive at New York Port in 41 days. (M.V.= motor vessel)

6. “on/upon” and “after”

When translate the phrase “……到后,就……”, we should use preposition “on/upon”, but not “after”,since “after” do not point a concrete date。

For example: 发票货值须货到付给。

The invoice value is to be paid on/upon arrival of the goods.

7. “by” and “before”

When we translate the time of termination,like “在某月某日之前”,if which contains the designated date, use “by”, if not, use “before”.

For example: 卖方须在 6 月 15 日前将货交给买方。

The vendor shall deliver the goods to the vendee by June 15.(or: before June 16) (explanation: if not include June 15, we can translate directly as “by June 14” or “before June 15”.)

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