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Mind your language: 'That person is very kiddish'
V D Manigandan, Anand Karve, A Matin, Vijay Jangam
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June 11, 2007

If English has you down, don't get discouraged!

The important thing is to practise every day. With time and effort, you'll soon become an English pro.

Our blooper series, observed and submitted by readers, highlights common mistakes that can easily trip you.

So, keep reading these articles, and keep an eye out for your own bloopers and the bloopers of others.

Remember, a firm grasp of English is a valued skill for youngsters hoping to study abroad and to follow the most sought after careers.

V D Manigandan, 27, a software engineer in London, remembers a blooper he heard his entire childhood.

1. That person is very kiddish; he doesn't know how to behave in the office.

Kiddish is not a word in the English dictionary. The correct word is 'childish.'

~ That person is very childish; he doesn't know how to behave in the office.

Anand Karve, 33 years, a government servant based in Pune, says that direct translations of Hindi sound funny in English.

2. What is your good name?

3. May I know your good name?

This is a literal translation of the Hindi version, 'Aapka shub naam kya hai?' In English, we do not have any 'bad names'.

~ What is your name?

~ May I know your name?

4. She is my real sister.

This is also the result of direct mother tongue to English translations. In English, you only call your biological sister, 'sister'. Therefore, it's not necessary to add 'real'.

~ She is my sister.

Two words often confused with one another:

5. 'stationary' (not in motion)

~ 'stationery' (writing material)

A Matin, a 50 year old businessman in Mumbai, has decades of bloopers under his belt. Here are some of his best:

6. Have you catched a cold?

The past tense of the verb 'to catch' is 'caught'. English has many irregular verbs in the past tense.

~ Have you caught a cold?

7. Yes, he come yesterday.

8. He did not came yesterday. 

This can be confusing. In the first example, it is necessary to use the past tense of the verb 'to come'; it is 'came'. In the second example, the 'did not' shifts the sentence to the past, and therefore, 'came' is no longer needed. It should be:

~ Yes, he came yesterday.

~ He did not come yesterday.

Another common mistake is the inappropriate use of colour to describe people:

9. He was a black man. 

The description is a direct translation of the word kaala. It should be:

~ He was dark-complexioned.

Vijay Jangam, working with Deloitte Consulting, sent this reminder: 'Making mistakes is pardonable. Trying to sound 'hip' by deliberately talking rubbish has become a trend.'


10. 'Any which ways you look at it, it's the same'.


'Any way you look at it, it's the same' OR

'Whichever way you look at it, it's the same'."


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 00NAME, AGE, OCCUPATION and the CITY you are based in.

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