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20 Common English Mistakes Made by Indian People

20 Common English Mistakes Made by Indian People

Depending on whether you are a native speaker or not, the English language can either be hard or simple to learn. Most non-native speakers consider it hard to learn especially in situation where they get introduced to the same at a very late stage in life. In as much as the native English speakers are assumed to have an easier time with the English language, not everyone can claim to have mastery on the same. As a matter of fact, most of them speak the language without a proper consideration on the grammar and words work.

Depending on what are your preferences, you can choose to either learn the British or the American English versions which are the most popular. Other versions include: the Canadian version, the Australian and the New Zealand version to name but a few. All these versions are slightly different from one another in terms of their grammar rules and in some case the spelling of words. To a typical non-native, all these can be overwhelming and confusing at the same time. This makes it hard for anyone who is willing to learn the language. In fact, some people attribute their countless mistakes to having such disparities in the versions.

In this piece, we’ll pay much of our attention to the Indian people as we try to explore some of the common mistakes they make in relation to the English language.


Get vs. Gets

A very common mistake made by the Indians which sees them adding the word ”s” to words unnecessarily.

Example: Unless you gets your act right

This is wrong. Unless the words ”you” is replaced by ”he” and ”your” replaced by ”his”. Better yet you cab drop the letter ”s” from ”gets”.

Their vs. There

More often than not, these words are misused. ”Their” refers to people whereas ”there” is used to refer to places.

Example: I have been there.

They came with their goods.

Misuse of a comma

The main purpose of a comma in a sentence should be to indicate a pause in a long sentence or split a list of items mentioned. When a sentence is split, it accounts to the misuse of a comma.

Example: It takes him all day, to drive home.

This is referred to as sentence splitting and is in fact wrong. The comma basically confuses the sentence and creates what is commonly referred to as sentence fragments.

Blunder vs. Mistake

These two words basically mean the same thing and can never be used in a sentence at the same time.

Example: You have made a blunder mistake

This is wrong because the sentence actually means, ”You have made a mistake mistake.”  It can either be ”You have made a mistake” or ”You have made a blunder”.

More vs. Better

At no point should they be used together in a sentence.

Example: This could never have turned out to be more better.

The word better in itself implies superiority hence the use of the word ”more” in the sentence is seen as being unnecessary.

Does vs. Do

”Does” is used in singular form while ”Do” indicates the plural nature of the subject.

Example: Why does he bother you a lot?

Why do they bother you a lot?

Which vs. That

One of the most popular mistakes that cuts across all nationalities. ”That” should be used as a restrictive pronoun while ”Which” should be used as a relative pronoun to imply the available options. In a nutshell, ”Which” defines and ”That” limits.

Example: I never watch movies that are not HD.  This means that you limit yourself to HD movies.

I only watch HD movies which are available on DVD. It means that you can watch HD movies available on DVD and do not have to download them.

Who vs. Whom

As a subjective pronoun, ”Who” is used in situations where a pronoun acts as the subject of a particular sentence. On the other hand, ”Whom” is used as an objective pronoun and used whenever a pronoun acts as an object in a sentence.

Example: Who is she?

To whom was the assignment given?

Putting a comma before the word ”that”

This is a very common grammar mistake made by Indians. There is a school of thought of the opinion that, ”that” should never have a comma before it while other provide for some discretion in certain scenarios.

Example: I did not think, that they were wrong.

This is wrong.

Un-capitalized words at the beginning of a quotation mark

Every time you start a quotation mark, it must be followed by a capital letter.

Example: He said, ”Get up and head to school.”

Forgetting to put a question mark

This mostly happens in sentences that do not begin with ”Why”, ”What”, ”How”, ”Who”, and ”When”.

Example: Are they not going to come back.

That is wrong. The sentence needs to end with a question mark.

Place vs. Plaice

This is a very common spelling mistake.  ”Place” refers to a certain location or position while ”Plaice” is some type of fish.

Example: He took the first place.

Who needs a plaice?

Accept vs. Except

When spoken, these words sound almost the same and can be confusing to non-natives. ”Accept” means to agree to take something that’s being offered while ”Except” means with the exclusion of something.

Example: Kindly accept this as a token of appreciation.

The book is new except the cover.

Its and it’s

”Its” is used to show possession while ”it’s” is the short version of ”it is”.

Example: It’s broken.

The vehicle broke its windscreen.

Envy vs. Jealousy

”Envy” is used to imply the pursuit to someone else’s success whereas ”Jealousy” has a much more negative meaning implying a fear of competition.

Example: I envy you with all your success.

His jealous nature contributed to his poor judgement.

May vs. Might

”May” is normally used to imply a possibility while ”Might” refers to uncertainty.

Example: Two shots may get you drunk.

It might rain today.

Fewer vs. Less

”Fewer” is mostly used on items that can be counted while ”Less” is used for hypothetical quantities.

Example: Today, the market has fewer people.

Last year the company was less successful.

Since vs. Because

”Since” refers to time while ”Because” is used to refer to causality.

Example: Since I started drinking, I’ve lost around 10 cell phones.

Because I’m highly intoxicated, I’ll not drive.

Bring vs. Take

The use of these two words basically depends on whether the object is moving towards or away from you.

Example: Take this to your mother.

Bring it to me.

Averse vs. Adverse

”Adverse” is used to refer to unfavourable while ”Averse” refers to the state of being reluctant.

Example: The adverse effects of tobacco.

A good number of people are averse to sleep at work.

* * *

In as much as English is a foreign language, it does not mean that we do not need to polish it up. With these mistakes highlighted, we can work towards making our English better.

Julie Petersen is a professional writer, blogger and a language tutor with 6 years of experience. She works at Essaymama.com writing agency as a writing expert and a blog editor. You may see Julia’s latest publications and contact her via Linkedin.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Just to elaborate on the points you made:

    1. There is no official “Indian English” – please refer to this link where Indian English is defined https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_English

    2. At least, there shouldn’t be – well, there are a lot of things that shouldn’t be, but the simple fact of the matter is that they simply are.

    3. Extremely tiny proportionate of people in India has English as their first language – yes, that’s true, but the reality of life is that English is the lingua franca in the business world and millions upon millions of Indians speak English as their second or third language.
    4. Only around 5% speak fluent English – the definition of fluency can be somehow stretched. Yes, 5% may speak fluently in accordance to the academic standards, but there’s a whole lot of people who speak conversationally fluently and as far as everyday use of English is concerned – it’s just fine.
    Regards,
    Robby

  • Vivid

    May be, when you put it that way. But I meant there is no official “Indian English.” Or at least, there shouldn’t be.
    There is an extremely tiny proportionate of people in India with English as their first language. Even people with English as their second language are also relatively few. Only around 5% speak fluent English.

  • Thanks for the great idea, I’ll see what I can do about it!

  • With all due respect, but I beg to differ. There’s American English, there’s British English, there’s Hiberno-English, there’s Australian English, there’s Nigerian English and there’s also Indian English. Every country where English is spoken it has peculiarities in terms of pronunciation, local slang and expressions and so on.

  • Vivid

    Can you follow this up with “Common pronunciation mistakes Indians make?” because that will be a long funny list.

  • Vivid

    There is no “Indian English.”

  • Ravi

    I admire your patience and professionalism, Robby.

  • Sam

    Thank you Robby, In coming days please write about Indian English. we are curious about what Indian English different from others.

  • Yes Sam, I’m very well aware English speakers use certain words differently and every country has its own unique set of expressions and so on. What this article is about however, is something a bit different – real mistakes that people make without being aware that what they say is wrong.

  • Sam

    Yes Robby, we all make mistakes. how a British or american made. but please understand (not you Robby, Generally) some words have different meanings ( like biscuit in UK cookie in USA) and we have different phrases because we think different from UK and other English speaking countries.
    Thank you Robby.

  • Hi Sam,
    We all make mistakes. I make mistakes when speaking in English, and there’s nothing wrong with that – that’s how we learn, and this article is created by Julie from Essaymama.com with an intention to help Indian nationals to fix some of the mistakes they might be making, that’s all!
    Regards,
    Robby

  • Sam

    Hey Ashkeen, why you want to learn American or British English while we have Indian English. ” I have a doubt” it make sense. as an Indian it is correct.

  • Sam

    Robby, please don’t indicate that Indians make mistakes. we are going to make our own version.

  • No problem Ashkeen, and I’m really glad you enjoy following my blog! 😉

  • Ashkeen Ahmed

    Thanks a bunch. You are really master of masters in English fluency. I love reading your blogs each passing day.

  • Hi Ashkeen,

    You wouldn’t really say “I have a doubt” – it just doesn’t sound right, native speakers don’t speak like that and they would say “I’m not so sure about…” instead.

    As always, it’s all about the larger context.

    Whenever you’re IN DOUBT (please note this collocation!) about something, for example, you don’t know if your friend is coming to work today, you can say “I’m not sure if John is coming in today, I guess we should call him!”. Basically what I’m trying to say is that you don’t really describe a doubtful situation as “you having doubts” over something.

    You can, however, say things such as:

    “Whenever in doubt, come to me and I’ll help you in any way I can!”

    “Yes, your mom was right in saying that John isn’t to be trusted, there’s no doubt about that!”

    “Beyond the shadow of a doubt” – meaning “certainly”; this is a typical English idiom.

    Hope it helps,

    Regards,

    Robby

  • ASHKEEN AHMED

    Mr. Kukurs,

    Here in India we use ” I have a doubt” or I have in doubt and I have doubts. Could you help me out whether they are correct or not.

  • I guess it was just a typo on Julie’s part, I just corrected it – thanks for pointing it out!

  • Tanja Cilia

    “His jealousy nature contributed to his poor judgement.” Really?