You are here: Rediff Home » India » Get Ahead » Careers » Education
Search: The Web
  Discuss this Article   |      Email this Article   |      Print this Article

English Errors: 'This calamity is very nice!'
Dr S Krishnan, Sachi Chander, Yoganandhan Raja, Krishnaswamy Murali
Get news updates:What's this?
July 16, 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]? 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.

With that in mind, 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.  

Dr. S. Krishnan
, a 50 year old scientist from Chennai, sent the following list of bloopers. They were all collected from a single conversation Dr. Krishnan overheard at office.

Wrong: If you can do, do. If you cannot, admit yourself
Correct: If you can do it, do it. If you cannot do it, admit it to yourself.

Wrong: What O'clock you are coming for dinner?
Correct: What time are you coming for dinner?

Wrong: Take this letter and post yourself.
Correct: Please take this letter and post it yourself.

Wrong: Can you capable work this Sunday?
Correct: Are you able to work this Sunday?

Wrong: Both the three of you to do field duty.
Correct: All three of you, go do field duty.

Wrong:  Mind me to get some flowers this evening.
Correct: Please remind me to get some flowers this evening.

Wrong: Udupi Hotel fooding is not good.
Correct: The food at Udupi Hotel is not good.

Meet Sachi Chander, a senior undergraduate at IIT Madras and self-proclaimed fanatic of the English language. He shares the following anecdotes.

After writing an English exam, a friend of mine came up to me and the following conversation ensued:

Friend: Hey, I wanted to confirm one of my answers. Can you help
Myself: Sure, which one was it?
Friend: Well, we were supposed to add a suitable preposition in the blank. The question was, 'Bear ____ me for a while.'

Naturally, the answer was 'Bear with me for a while.' This means that the speaker requests the person to be patient for a while.

My friend, however, changed the meaning completely with his answer:
'Bear chased me for a while.'

Of course, this indicated that a bear had actually come and attacked him for a while. This absurd answer left me rolling on the floor with laughter.

Another funny incident happened to my friend who was walking in a park with her cousin.

Friend:  Wow, what a peaceful atmosphere! It's so calm.
Cousin: Yes, this calamity is very nice!

Calamity refers to a disaster or a tragedy. My friend's cousin mistakenly connected calamity with calm -- a true calamity indeed!

Yoganandhan Raja
, working in Marketing Research in Mumbai, sent us a few memorable bloopers committed by his sixth standard teacher in Chennai:

Wrong: You three both of you sit together separately.

Never use the word 'both' when referring to more than two people.

Correct: I want the three of you to separate and sit apart from one another.

Wrong: I will recommend the suggestion that you must buy it -- it's a worthable one.

The beginning is very confusing and has too many words. And 'worthable' isn't even a word.

Correct: I recommend that you buy it; it's a worthwhile purchase.

Wrong: Off all the on fans and lights.

In English, we say 'turn off' or 'switch off' the fans. 'On' and 'off' are adverbs, and thus, must be connected to other verbs.

Correct: Please turn off the fans and lights.

Krishnaswamy Murali heard the following story circling around the office:

Once, my colleague wanted to inform our Director that his mother was seriously ill and that he needed a few days of leave. His application read as follows:

Wrong: My mother is very dangerous and I want to saw her. Please leave me three days.

The mother is not dangerous! She's very ill. Also, he doesn't want to saw her, which sounds gruesome. Instead he wants to 'see her', or better yet, 'be by her side'. Finally, he is requesting leave; he doesn't want the boss to actually leave him for three days.

Correct: My mother is seriously ill and I would like to be by her side. Therefore, I request you grant me leave for three days.


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 -- 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.

 Email this Article      Print this Article
© 2007 India Limited. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer | Feedback