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20 Common English Mistakes an Indian makes

20 Common English Mistakes an Indian makes

English is a very hard language to learn, and if you were not taught it from birth then it is even harder. There are British people (the ones who invented the language) who speak the language but do not even know how English grammar and words work, so how are people from other countries supposed to master it? There is also the fact that over here in America we have slightly different grammar rules in some cases, and some minor spelling differences, added to the fact that our neighbors to the North (Canada) use the British grammar rules.

The Australians speak and write in English too, but they also have their own spellings and grammar differences. Suffice it to say, it is a difficult job, and some Indian people who were born in India are at a severe disadvantage when compared to people born in Anglo-Saxon countries.

Common English mistakes

To further add to the complications many words in English are homophones – sound the same but are spelt differently and have different means such as – there, their and they’re, which and witch, and ruff and rough. Others are spelt similarly but are pronounced completely differently.

Here are twenty sentences, and each sentence has an error that many Indian, and non-Anglo Saxon born people make.

Most Common English Grammar mistakes by an Indian

1 – Not unless you gets your act together.

The addition of the “s” on the end of “get” is all too common. It is even suggested by spelling and grammar checkers sometimes too, which makes it seem all the more legitimate. It is wrong and there should not be an “s” on the end unless the word “you” was changed to “he” and the word “your” was changed to “his”.

2 – I too have been their.

The misuse of “their” is very common. It is a plague on Twitter, where Anglo-Saxon people are also misusing the word. “Their” refers to people and “there” refers to a place.

3 – It takes me all day, to drive there.

This is called sentence splitting and is a misuse of a comma. This is a common mistake because if one were to read it aloud, then the pause indicated by the comma would not sound incorrect. The comma should not be there because it confuses the sentence and makes sentience fragments.

4 – So he said, “Don’t be a fool”.

It is accepted in most circles that if you are highlighting a certain word, that you may put it in quotation marks and leave the punctuation outside of the quotation marks. However, if you are writing a sentence, or a sentence fragment, within quotation marks, then any punctuation should be within the quotation marks. As you can see on point number four, the period is outside of the quotation marks.

5 – I never thought, that he would try such a thing.

Putting a comma before “that” is a big english grammar mistake, and a very common one. Some grammar scholars say that a “that” should never have a comma before it. Others claim that there are certain instances where it may be acceptable, such as after an introduction fragment. But, if you are putting a comma before “that” in your sentence, then you are probably making a mistake.

6 – When Barry said, “it was my fault.”

Every time you put a sentence or sentence fragment into quotation marks, you need to start it with a capital letter. It is okay to leave it un-capitalized if you are just highlighting a word, but not under any other circumstances.

7 – Isn’t there a law against that.

There is no question mark on the end of this sentence. This sort of thing often happens if the sentence does not begin with a word such as “why”, “what”, “when”, “who” and “how”.

8 – He takes his dog which is why I avoid him.

This sentence needs a comma before “which”.

9 – He loved to practice his baseball swing.

You “practice” your baseball swing, you do not “practice”. It is often highlighted as a misspelling by computer programs because practice is used more often than the word “practise”, which is usually only used to indicate something that someone has done or is doing right now.

10 – But he did find true love eventually.

The “But” in this sentence should have a comma after it. Many Indians are taught that a sentence should have five words in it before a comma appears, but that is a rule when your comma makes up a compound sentence. In this case the “but” is indicating a continued theme from the previous sentence.

11 – He took first plaice.

Common misspellings of similar sounding words are common. It is unlikely that the author wants people to think the person took the first fish (aka, a plaice).

12 – Have you ever been on the internet?

The word “Internet” should start with a capital letter. There are many words that a non-native writer will forget to capitalize.

13 – Excellent I found his work to be.

At a stretch this sentence may have a comma after “excellent” or a double long dash after the word “excellent”. But, this sentence is a short example of how Indian writers will misplace the descriptive words within their text. There are far worse examples of this online, where the sentence makes no sense at all until you take a snippet out of the text and put it on the end of the sentence. If you were to put “excellent” at the end of the point 13 line the sentence would make a lot more sense.

14 – I just could not except his answer.

Words are commonly confused by non-native writers, or writers who were not born in Anglo-Saxon countries. Words such as “accept” and “except” are often confused because they sound the same when they are spoken.

15 – I loved it in paris.

Place names should start with a capital letter.

16 – Their hair was ruined, and he could not fix it.

This sentence should replace the “their” for his. This is a mistake that is often made on two fronts. Firstly, talking about a group of people (their) and a single person (he) within the same sentence. Secondly, very often a male or female character will be excluded from a sentence. For example, “The client may take his new toy home,” is incorrect. It should be, “The client may take his or her new toy home.”

17 – Theres my new car.

There should be an apostrophe on the “Theres” because the writer means “There is” .

18 – The hair-stylist turned into a really big hair raiser.

The hyphen is one of the few areas where different groups are arguing about what is correct and what is not. The arguments happen within countries, meaning this is not a different country problem. There are some established rules for hyphens, but Indian people are not often grounded in which ones are established and which ones are flexible. “Hair stylist” should not be hyphenated, and “hair raiser” should be. If you are of the party that believes “hair raiser” doesn’t always have to be hyphenated, and then take a look at the two words preceding it.

19 – I think I saw how it happened…

Many people use dotted lines to indicate a pause (for whatever reason) at some point in a sentence. However, three dots (periods) in succession is commonly accepted by editors as a replacement for “etc”. This means that people who do not know this will often create sentences that are unnecessarily confusing.

20 – Ronalds carpet is covered in cat hair.

This sentence actually says that there are multiple Ronalds and that their carpets are covered in cat hair. It is a common mistake made by people who are not very advanced grammatically. There is a possessive use situation going on, which means an apostrophe is needed between the “d” and “s”.

I hope above tips will help you to improve most common english writing mistakes. If you have additional tips to improve writing, do share it via comments.

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    { 13 comments… add one }

    • SAJI

      Non-availability of good English language teachers in Indian schools leaves children’s punctuation,grammar and pronunciation literally horrible.

      Reply
    • Mahesh

      Very well said. These are the most common mistakes and I too make many of these. Maybe, few of them will occur while writing this comment.

      Reply
    • Sam Woods

      I have to admit, I have been known to make some of these errors.

      You learn something new every day, like the three periods for ‘etc’.

      I have to say though that I have bought articles that have all of these errors. When I started looking at buying articles I thought “It is cheap, so it’s going to have some errors”. This didn’t go on for long, as it took me too much time re-writing all of them.

      Thanks for the post,

      Sam

      Reply
    • Ketan Gaikwad

      Great post…I agree these are some very common english mistakes.

      Reply
    • Manish Agarwal

      I am not so good in english. But, i think after reading that article i will definitely improve it at some instances

      Reply
    • S.Pradeep Kumar

      Well written, saved it. It’ll be nice if the title can be tweaked as “20 Common English Mistakes Some (or most of the) Indian makes”. ;)

      Reply
    • Gayle

      “This is called sentence splitting and is a misuse of a comma. This is a common mistake because if one were to read it aloud, then the pause indicated by the comma would not sound incorrect. The comma should not be there because it confuses the sentence and makes sentience fragments.”

      ……………………..really!

      Reply
    • Ashutosh

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The difference in US English and UK English makes it much more complex. As an example, holidaying is used in UK while vacations in US. Really, someone has rightly said that English is a very funny language.

      Reply
    • Jhon Synthi

      This is really a good topic. We commonly mistake when we speak in English but if we aware about our mistake we may reduce this.

      Reply
    • Prasad Np

      Hi Morrisonk: You bring a very important point the difference between spoken and written English. The challenge is the written and spoken English are so different in countries like India and Caribbean islands that they are tough to sync in real life. Even in US where English is first language the two are very different. But I take it more as an evolution of the language in diverse geographies, as long as the message is clear. But you have a valid point that in written language the meaning can totally be different if correct punctuation is not followed. Thanks.

      Reply
    • Ashay Mhatre

      Nice article Sir! I think it should be ‘You “practise” your baseball swing’ Do rectify :)

      Reply
    • Prasad Np

      English as a language is evolving in India, just like in the Caribbeans. Spoken and written English are not going to converge in many geographies ( true even for Caribbeans and US where English is first language). The challenge comes when people write the incorrect English that does not conform to the rules of Grammar with the Queen’s English. It is only a matter of another 25-50 years when the rules of written English will be different in all major English speaking countries. If the language does not evolve it will go the Latin and Sanskrit way. Already there are N number of informal web dictionaries of slang, SMS and webchat lingo.

      Reply
    • Mahaveer Verma

      Very common mistakes indeed!

      I was thoroughly checking this article just to find out if I was committing any of these and I am really relieved to find that I didn’t make any such mistakes.

      Reply

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