Misused Words & Expressions in EU Publications – Entry #3 – „eventually“

I knew we’d eventually have to hit this point. Sooner or later, we would have to take a moment and think about the word eventual, which is a „false friend“ of the German word eventuell.

For example: this sentence uses the word in question correctly,

After looking for our friends in the park, we eventually found them near the rose garden. (=in the end)

whereas this one does not:

I’m afraid I won’t be home on time tonight, there is an eventual meeting that I should attend. (= potential)

Let’s see what Mr. Gardner has to say about this most misused of English words:

7) Eventual/eventually

Explanation: Eventual means “occurring at some unspecified time in the future”, eventually means “in the end”. However, in EU texts, these words are often used with a meaning akin to “possible” and “possibly”. Thus, the sentence “eventually, the beneficiary provided documentary evidence”, which the author intended to mean something like “if any documentary evidence were necessary/available, the beneficiary provided it”, actually means that it took the beneficiary a long time to do so. In the examples below, “eventual” is used to mean “possible”, whereas its actual meaning would be “in the long term”.

Examples: “They both opposed an eventual imposition of anti-dumping measures as they considered that it could lead to a cessation of imports of the product concerned from the PRC.” AND “The results thus obtained will be taken into consideration by the Commission with regard to an eventual new request for derogation.”

Alternatives: Possible, any, the possibility of. It may sometimes be better to rework the sentence (e.g. eventual claims should be sent to the paying office = if you wish to make a claim, please write to the paying office).

Exercises: Correct or not? You decide! Leave your answers in the comments!

  1. After many years of decreasing ticketing sales, the museum eventually closed.
  2. We would be pleased to answer any eventual questions you could have.
  3. Laura can’t make it to lunch today because her morning appointments are running eventually longer than planned.
  4. My sister wants to study graphic design, with an eventual  career goal in marketing.