September 14, 2016

English is a language undergoing constant and continuous evolution, we all know often borrowing and appropriating words from other languages including Hindi. For example, while words like ‘bazaar’, ‘chutney’, ‘loot’ and ‘maharaja’ have been plucked at their face value from Hindi and Urdu and integrated into mainstream English discourse, words like ‘cummerbund’, ‘dacoit’ and ‘juggernaut’ which have a local origin have been appropriated by the English. However, the rules of grammar and usage remain unchanged in most cases.

english language

With its rules being vastly different from Indian languages, we are often left struggling with tenses and usage. To help you out, here are examples of a few common mistakes we all make.

1. While introducing yourself: “Myself, XYZ.”

You must have come across this a lot of times. There is this one person we all know, who likes to introduce themselves using the above mentioned syntax, be it at parties, weddings, orientations or formal meetings. The correct usage would be to introduce yourself by “My name is XYZ.” or “Hello, I am XYZ.”

2. While stating your place of residence: “I am living in ABC.”

“-ing” is used to refer to something which is in continuum, like “I am eating”. But what you are doing is, stating a fact.  For example, “I breathe.” Hence instead of using “I am living in ABC”, say “I live in ABC.”or “I am also from ABC”.People who are fluent in more than one language commit this grammatical mistake most often. Here, the speaker does a literal translation of “Main bhi ABC se hi hu.” Although grammatically correct in Hindi, in English the sentence has structural defects with unnecessary use of “also” and “only”. Instead, she can say, “I am from ABC too/as well.” While one can clearly make out the meaning of what the speaker wants to convey in this case, sometimes literal translation can change the meaning of the sentence completely.

3. While using homophones

Not just those with English as an additional language, but even native speakers get caught up in this web of errors. Homophones are a set of words which sound exactly the same when spoken, have a somewhat similar spelling but their meanings are very different from each other. People often confuse one for the other and what ensues is literary chaos.

4. The Troublesome Trinity of “There/Their/They’re”

“There” refers to a direction, location or a particular space.
“Keep the water bottle there.”

“Their” is a possessive pronoun.
Their house is around the corner.”

“They’re” is an abbreviation for “They are”.
They’re waiting for you at the cinema”.

Think you could do with a crash course to work your communication skills? Get in touch with Bia here.