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English bloopers: 'Did you bye the petrol?'
Chiquita C, Ira Nikam, Sunita Mansukhani
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June 06, 2007

You might not know it, but your English is always being judged!

At work, school, office and in social situations, proper grammar, pronunciation and spelling cast you in a favourable light.

On the other hand, errors leave you looking silly, even if you're very intelligent.

What's the solution? There's no simple trick, but research shows that you should read, write and converse in English every single day.

To help youngsters keep learning, the Get Ahead Team is publishing user-driven English Bloopers three times a week. Don't miss a single installment!

Chiquita C, a 22-year-old student from Calcutta, sent in English errors she has come across often:

1. 'Buy the way, did you fill the car with petrol?'

    'I'm off to the petrol station, by!'

    'Did you bye the petrol?'

'Bye' is the opposite of 'hello'; it's a greeting that is used at the time of parting ways with someone. 'Buy' is a verb, meaning to purchase. 'By' is a preposition with many different meanings. Therefore, the proper forms of the above sentences would be:

~ By the way, did you fill the car with petrol?

~ I'm off to the petrol station, bye!

~ Did you buy the petrol?

2. 'Did you pay the tution fees?'

    'That child is too mischievious!'

    'I hate to see the roads detoriate.'

The above sentences contain common spelling mistakes. The correct spellings are in italics below:

~ Did you pay the tuition fees?

~ That child is too mischievous!

~ I hate to see the roads deteriorate

Ira Nikam, a 25-year-old software engineer in California, USA, sent in this common blooper she remembers from her days in India.

'My father-in-law is very nice -- they consider me to be their daughter.'

This is an incorrect direct translation from the Hindi language, wherein an elderly/ respected person is sometimes referred to in the plural to denote his/ her seniority. English has no such rule. So the sentence should be:

~ My father-in-law is very nice -- he considers me to be his daughter.

Sunita Mansukhani, 28, resides in Mumbai and is a special educator. When she first started teaching, a student asked her this question:

~ 'What are the alphabets in your name?'

The first time around, she didn't understand the question. Then, it suddenly hit her; he meant the letters in her name! The English Alphabet comprises 26 letters, from A-Z. Therefore, it should be:

~ What are the letters in your name?

 OR, more commonly:

~ 'How do you spell your name?'


We thank our readers for the witty emails detailing common English bloopers they've come across! Keep them coming in, and we'll keep publishing them. Three times a week, we'll provide articles featuring your responses.

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. Also make sure you include your FULL NAME, AGE, OCCUPATION and the CITY you are based in.

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