Friday, August 7, 2015

Mind Your English - I

Value of this column. Here we are trying to help those who need to or want to improve their English. We have in mind the average and the advanced learners. The starred items are meant specially for advanced learners. We focus on grammatical correctness, lexical (vocabulary) appropriacy, and idiomaticity. We try to follow both Indian and international standards of correctness and acceptability.

Now, are you ready to have a go at the exercise?
Instructions: The following sentences contain some common mistakes we make in Chennai. Indeed all over India! Some are grammatical; and some are lexical (vocabulary) mistakes. The word or phrase containing a mistake is underlined. Your correction should be a word or two that can be put in the place of the underlined word or words.

If a word has to be simply dropped, your correction should be expressed with a (0) zero.

Incorrect sentence: The early bird get the worm.
Correction: gets
Explanation: The subject of the sentence (“bird”) is a Third Person Singular. It is in third person. And the verb (“get”) has to agree with it.

Incorrect sentence: I can’t cope up with the work. It is two people’s work.
Correction: 0
Explanation: “With” is not only unnecessary but ill-fitting here.

The exercise
Correct the following sentences.
1.The members of the family discussed about the alliance.
2.When you are leaving for Hyderabad.
3.I am having ten silk sarees.
4.*Which is your native place?
5.*These containers are being sent to the godown.

1 0
 Explanation: “Discuss” is not followed by any prepositions such as                                                      “about”, “on”, and “regarding”. But discussion is always followed by “on” or  “about”.
2 are you
Explanation: In questions like this, the first verb (are) has to come before the subject                                  (you).
3  have
 Explanation: When “have” means “possess”, it should not be used in the “ ing” form.
I have a car. Correct.    
I am having a car. Incorrect.

4 home town  
Explanation: This is just a matter of idiomaticity and acceptability.  Internationally acceptable varieties of English, including standard Indian English, prefer “home town”. Strangely enough, “native language”, “native plant”, “native tradition”, “native art” and such combinations are acceptable. For some inexplicable reason “native place” is not acceptable by most speakers of Standard English or the speakers of the Prestige Variety of English.

5 Warehouse
Explanation: As in the case of 4, this, too, is a matter of idiomaticity and acceptability. .Interestingly, this word “godown” is used not only in India but in also in Malaysia. And, believe it or not, it comes from the Tamil word “kidangu”.

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