July 25, 2007
In India, we have over a dozen official languages and countless local dialects. So how does a farmer from Bihar speak with a fisherman from Kerala [Images] [Images]? The answer, for now, is 'not easily'.
One day, however, all Indians will use English as a first, second or third language. This will allow them to communicate effectively not only with other Indians, but also the rest of the world.
Of course, getting to that point won't be easy. For most of us, English is still a challenge. With all its irregularities, exceptions and rules, English is a very difficult language to master., a 26 year old software engineer in Bangalore, says she makes the occasional mistake herself. Still, she sent in the following errors:
With that in mind, rediff.com presents our English Bloopers series. Here, we publish written and spoken mistakes spotted and sent to us by observant Get Ahead readers. It's a great way to review the basics, clarify a few issues and share a laugh or two!
So, stop by each Monday, Wednesday and Friday for another fresh batch of English Bloopers.
Wrong: I was not knowing.
This is a common blooper. Your answer should either be, 'I did not know' or 'I was not aware'.
Correct: I was not aware.
Correct: I did not know.
Wrong: I went marketing.
Marketing is selling or advertising a product. What the person means to say is, 'I went shopping.'
Correct: I went shopping.
Wrong: Who threw the ball? It was not me.
'Me' is used when you are the object of a sentence; 'I' is used when you are the subject. In this case, 'I' is the subject and 'ball' is the object.
Correct: Who threw the ball? It was not I.
Wrong: I don't know nothing about it.
The double negative in the example actually flips the meaning. By saying, 'I don't know nothing about it', you are saying that you do know something.
Correct: I don't know anything about it.
Correct: I know nothing about it.
Dorothy Singh, who workes for a fabric manufacturer in Mysore, sent bloopers she has heard at work:
Wrong: Pack the small boxes into large cartoons.
A cartoon is a funny drawing or an animated picture. A carton is a large container or box.
Correct: Pack the small boxes into large cartons.
Wrong: The lady wishes to adapt a child.
Wrong: Children adopt to new surroundings very easily.
There is a tremendous amount of confusion regarding these two words. Adopt means to take as one's own. Adapt means to adjust to something.
Correct: The lady wishes to adopt a child.
Correct: Children adapt to new surroundings very easily.
Wrong: Please call back me.
Wrong: I will call back you.
This is something Dorothy hears almost everyday on the phone.
Correct: Please call me back.
Correct: I will call you back.
Wrong: She wore a lose dress today.
Wrong: Do not loose these papers
These are two more words that are frequently misused. Lose, pronounced with a 'z' sound, means to misplace. It is the opposite of 'find'. Loose, pronounced with an 's' sound, means baggy or ill-fitting. It is the opposite of 'tight'.
Correct: She wore a loose dress today
Correct: Do not lose these papers
N Narayan, retired and living in Singapore, sent his comments on the 'Noon versus 12 pm' debate.
I am writing on the present-day common and confusing usage of '12 am' and '12 pm'. I was taught quite rigorously that no such animals exist in correct English usage.
'AM' and 'PM' are abbreviations for 'ante-meridiem' and 'post-meridiem' respectively, with 'meridiem' pertaining to the time when the sun is directly overhead. When the clock is at 12, it is neither 'ante-meridiem' nor is it 'post-meridiem'.
Thus the proper descriptions of the times when the clock is at 12 should be 'noon' and 'midnight' respectively.
One method to avoid ambiguity is give the time in hours from 0-24.
MORE English bloopers
If you'd like to share common bloopers you come across when people speak/ write in English, do mail your list, along with their correct alternatives to firstname.lastname@example.org -- we'll highlight them right here as a helpful guide to those trying to improve their English. Also, make sure you include your FULL NAME, AGE, OCCUPATION and the CITY you are based in.