“English is a funny language”, is an oft-repeated quote in India. People of India, when comparing grammar and sentence structure of English with Hindi, use this quote to indicate strangeness of English. Yes, indeed, English sounds very alien language to Hindi speakers. Questions like “why pronunciations of but and put are different?” make us feel that English is ridden with mistakes. But it's not only the English language that is strange but Indian English also throws some really strange usages at times. Indian English has several glaring mistakes that people keep on making. We don't bother ourselves with standards of English as long as we can communicate what we mean.
It's not that only Indians make these mistakes. Such deviations from standard English are rampant in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many other countries. Let's have a look at weird, and sometimes funny, mistakes we make.
By the way, this article is in two parts. Link to second part is here.
Let’s is a short form of “let us”. For example, “let’s play football”
Lets is used when permission is involved. For instance, “he lets me use his car”
There is nothing like “repeat again” because the word “repeat” itself means doing something again.
Incorrect: Please repeat your statement again
Correct: Please repeat your statement
Here the problem is similar as to with “repeat and repeat again”… there is nothing like “revert back”
Incorrect: I’ll revert back to you soon.
Correct: I’ll reply to you soon.
Conjunction “than” is used to compare whereas “then” is an adverb pointing to time.
Incorrect: Sachin Tendulkar runs faster then Dhoni
Correct: Sachin Tendulkar runs faster than Dhoni
Incorrect: He had gone and than she realized
Correct: He had gone and then she realized
North Indians use these two unnecessary words to pose questions as well as to make statements. For example:
“He is to very smart na”
Here “o” of to is pronounced as in “go” and “a” of na is pronounced as in “jar”. Both to and na are nonsensical and totally unnecessary. Such usage should be avoided. Take another example:
Incorrect: “You are going na?”
Correct: “You are going, aren’t you?”
Incorrect: I didn’t saw him
Correct: I didn’t see him
Remember, “did” is always followed by the first form of the verb.
Indians use the word “only” for adding emphasis. This is not exactly wrong except that in India “only” is overused to emphasize. In Hindi, there are words that we use to emphasize something. One such word is “hi” as in “Ramesh ko Nagpur jana hi hai”. English language lacks such words. Perhaps this is the reason, Indians make use “only” to replace “hi”.
For example, Indians tend to translate “main to aisa hi hoon” as “I am like this only”. However the correct form would be:
Incorrect: I am like this only
Correct: This is how I am
Can denotes the ability of doing something whereas “may” denotes asking for the permission for doing something.
Incorrect: Can I take this magazine?
Correct: May I take this magazine?
If you say “Can I take this magazine?” –you are actually questioning your ability to take or lift a magazine. Of course you are strong enough to lift it and therefore you can take it. But when you say “May I take this magazine?” –you are asking for someone’s permission to have the magazine.
I must credit Mr. Y.Singh, my English teacher in 9th class, for telling me about this correct usage. Although, having done my entire schooling in Hindi medium schools, at that time, I was least bothered about such nitty-gritty of English language!
In standard English cousin is used for both the sexes –brother or sister is not attached with this word. Although, it makes sense to use cousin brother or cousin sister because these terms are more informative –but, unfortunately, in standard English these terms are deemed as wrong.
Ok, now we move on to the the second part of this article on English language mistakes in India.