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'Understanding the tree and drinking cigarettes'
Ashok Bhattacharjee, Yusuf Merchant, Glenn Fernandes, Shilpa Archarya
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July 13, 2007

Many of us speak one language at home, another with friends and a third at school or office.

But with all this switching and translating, it's easy to make a mistake or two. Here we go, with another round of English Bloopers. 

Ashok Bhattacharjee, from Calcutta and working in a MNC, was asked this question: 

Wrong: 'You are staying alone and you can cook yourself?'

This problem comes from misplacing 'yourself'. It sounds as if Ashok is eating himself! Instead, the 'yourself' should be placed after 'you'.

Correct: 'You are staying alone and you yourself can cook?'

Yusuf Merchant sent this amusing story from the school-yard.

Wrong: Sports teacher -- 'You two boys understanding the tree drinking cigarettes, call both your fathers.'

First, it should be 'standing under', not 'understanding'. Second, in English, you do not drink cigarettes; you smoke them. This is direct translation from Hindi. Finally, the whole structure is wrong.

Correct: Sports teacher -- 'Both of you standing under the tree and smoking cigarettes, call your fathers.'

Glenn Fernandes, of Mumbai, mentions two errors he has stumbled across in conversation:

Wrong: Take out my ticket
Wrong: I got angry on him

The first is a direct translation of 'mera ticket nikaal' and the second is a translation of 'mein uspe gussa hua'. They should be:

Correct: Buy my ticket.
Correct: I got angry with him.

Shilpa B Acharya, from Bangalore and working with Tata Consultancy Services [Get Quote], sent a lengthy list of helpful tips:

Wrong: When my boss asked me why I came late, I said him that I had to attend a function.

You should use 'told' instead of 'said' in this situation.

Correct: When my boss asked me why I came late, I told him that I had to attend a function.

Wrong: This place is called as the Garden City of India

If you're using the word, 'as', you should use 'known as'.

Correct: This place is known as the Garden City of India

Wrong: I didn't got his mail.

'Didn't' is a contraction of 'did not', which should be followed by the present tense.

Correct: I didn't get his mail.

Wrong: My husband and I went and bought furnitures for our new house.

The word 'furniture' is plural.

Correct: My husband and I went and bought furniture for our new house.

Wrong: He is a MP.
Wrong: He is an Member of Parliament.

Whenever the short form MP (Member of Parliament) is used, we should say, 'He is an MP'. But when the full form is used, we should say, 'He is a Member of Parliament.'

Correct: He is an MP.
Correct: He is a Member of Parliament.


MORE English bloopers

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 alternatives 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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