From the way you introduce yourself to how you respond to e-mails, language expert Aditi Mehra tells you how to choose the right words.
English is not India’s national language, yet it is the most spoken second language in the country.
For many, English is an aspirational bridge, a passport for a better, more financially secure future.
However, merely being able to speak in English doesn’t guarantee success.
Your grammar, tone and choice of words are equally important.
Here’s a list of common English mistakes to be aware of and to avoid if you want to improve your English language skills.
1. I, me, myself
While introducing yourself, don’t say ‘;Myself Raj’. It’s a common mistake most of us make.
Instead say, ‘My name is Raj’ or ‘I am Raj’.
2. Stress and pressure
Stressed about work? Don’t say, ‘I’m feeling pressurised.’
The word ‘pressurised’ refers to the pressure levels in a closed enclosure, like an aircraft cabin for instance.
Instead say, ‘I’m feeling pressured’ or even ‘I’m stressed out.’
3. ‘A lot’ and ‘many’
When you want to convey an abundance of something, avoid saying, ‘I have a lot many things.’
‘Lot’ and ‘many’ are synonyms; they mean the same thing.
So when you say, ‘I have a lot many things’ you are implying, ‘I have lot lot things’, which is both silly and redundant.
Instead say, ‘an incredible amount of’.
4. Marriage anniversary
Want to wish a couple on their anniversary?
Say ‘wedding anniversary’ instead of ‘marriage anniversary’.
Marriage refers to the institution whereas ‘wedding’ refers to the event or the ritual wherein people get married.
An anniversary marks the day of the event, not the institution.
5. Discuss about
It’s common for Indians to say, ‘We were discussing about what happened yesterday.’
A discussion already suggests you are talking about something. The word ‘about’ is unnecessary.
Instead say, ‘We were discussing what happened yesterday.’
6. Pass out
How do you say you’ve completed your education?
Well, most Indians would say, ‘I am a pass-out.’
Instead say, ‘I am a graduate’, so you can sound more like the professional you now are!
7. Me and my friends
When someone says, ‘;Me and my friends are going out for dinner’, many of you would find nothing wrong with the sentence.
But, grammatically, the sentence is incorrect.
The correct usage would be, ‘My friends and I are going out for dinner.’
8. Double superlatives
Again, it is very common for Indian speakers to use superlatives as a part of their conversation.
For example, ‘It was the most tastiest dish on the menu’ or ‘It could have been a little more better.’
In this context, the words most and tastiest are comparative. So are more and better.
It’s best to say, ‘It was the tastiest dish on the menu’ or ‘It could have been better’ or ‘It was far better than…’
9. Couldn’t and able
Unable to do something? Avoid saying, ‘I couldn’t able to.’
Instead say, ‘I wasn’t able to.’
Both ‘can’ and be ‘able to’ can be used to explain the ability of a person. So using ‘couldn’t (could not)’ along with ‘able’ is redundant.
10. Reply back
While writing and responding to e-mails, don’t say, ‘Don’t forget to reply back.’
Instead, say ‘Don’t forget to reply’ or ‘Looking forward to your response.’
‘Reply’ already denotes a response to something. Adding ‘back’ is unnecessary.
Speaking English fluently while taking care of grammar may seem daunting at first but will become effortless with practice.
These are just some of the mistakes that can be avoided by remaining mindful while speaking or writing.
Aditi Mehta is director and currently leads the academics team at Stones2Milestones, an engaging tech-driven English learning platform catering to children from ages 3-12 years.
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