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Mistakes we make while speaking English
Sunita R Kamath, Nasreen Haque
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April 26, 2007

The girl next door is as cute as a button, but when she opens her mouth, her English is bad enough to get her sent back to kindergarten! Well, it's a common enough problem today -- almost everyone is mourning the lack of fluency in English among our school and college-going generation, as well as in the new entrants into the work force.

Presented here are a few English bloopers sent in by our readers -- they are good lesson in the English language!

Let's start off with a few common blunders that reader Sunita R Kamath comes across frequently:

1. ~ "It was a blunder mistake."

Correction, people! The word 'blunder' means mistake, so you could say:

~ "It was a blunder," or
~ "It was a big mistake."

2. ~ "It would have been more better."

The word 'better' itself implies that the option in question is superior -- the use of the word 'more' in the sentence is, therefore both inappropriate and unnecessary. Thus the correct sentence would go as follows:

~ "It would have been better."

3. ~ "Why don't he get married?"

The term 'don't' applies when discussing a plural subject. For instance, "Why don't they get married?" The right way to phrase that sentence would be:

~ "Why doesn't he get married?"

4. ~ "I want two Xeroxes of this card."

The term 'Xerox' is used in North American English as a verb. Actually, 'Xerox' is the name of a company that supplies photocopiers! The correct thing to say, therefore, would be:

~ "I want two photocopies of this card."

5. ~ "Your hairs are looking silky today."

This is one of the most common Indian bloopers! The plural of 'hair' is 'hair'! Thus:

~ "Your hair is looking silky today."

Get Ahead reader Nasreen Haque says, "We must realise that English is not the native language of Indians. Having said that, we should tell ourselves, 'Yeah, I could go wrong and I could make innumerable mistakes, but of course there is always room for improvement.'"

Here are a few bloopers Nasreen has across often:

1. ~ Loose vs lose

Many people make this mistake. They inevitably interchange the words 'loose' and 'lose' while writing. 'Lose' means to 'suffer a loss or defeat'. Thus, you would write:

~ 'I don't want to lose you," and not ' don't want to loose you.'

'Loose', on the other hand, means 'not firm' or 'not fitting.' In this context, you would write,

~ "My shirt is loose," not "My shirt is lose." 

2. ~ "One of my friend lives in Kolkata."

This is one of the most common Indian English bloopers ever! The correct way of putting that is:

"One of my friends lives in Kolkata."

Why? Because the sentence implies that you have many friends who live in Kolkata, but you are referring to only one of these friends.

3. ~ Tension-inducing tenses.

People often use the wrong tense in their sentences. For instance, someone might say:

~ "I didn't cried when I saw the movie."

Unfortunately, the word 'didn't' is never followed by a past tense verb, in this case 'cried'. The correct way of putting it would be:

~ "I didn't cry when I saw the movie."

We invited readers to share common English bloopers with us. This is the first in a series of articles featuring your response.

If you'd like to share common bloopers you come across when people speak/ write in English, do mail your list of common bloopers, along with their correct alternative to We'll highlight them right here as a helpful guide to those trying to improve their English.

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