Irritating English

At the outset, here's the mandatory disclaimer: "I am not an expert in English. I am not the smartest or the wisest or the most experienced literary critic in the world. I am just a humble engineer, but I believe I have a grasp on English that is good enough for me to recognise a few standard mistakes, especially by the vernie types. I hope that someone out there reads this list, and actually finds it helpful, rather than just deciding I am a snob.

So here goes ... it's a list of mistakes in the way people speak English that I find extremely irritating. In fact I can easily lose my chain of thought when I come across one of these mistakes!

The present continuous tense

This is probably the most irritating sentence construction, that is a side-effect of the "think native, talk English" paradigm. A good example is "I am having a problem." What's wrong with this? The tense should have been the present perfect: "I have a problem."

The usage "am having" kinda reminds of someone eating something ... as if "I am having a problem for dinner!"

TIP: Whenever you need to use the verb "have", think of the immortal sentence: "Houston, we have a problem!"

The Article

Another commonly occouring problem with the sentence above ... the article! Articles are the words "a", "an", "the" that play an important syntactic role in English. They aren't just fillers that you can drop or insert anywhere! Most vernies are prone to dropping articles - "Houston, I have problem" they will say ... or there are the opposite kind who put in "Houston, I have the problem!"

Unfortunately, I can't come up with a coherent set of guidelines about articles right now ... might update this space later ...


This one's not a result of bad grammar ... just a legacy of the British Raj ... the need to be as humble as possible when using the Gore Saheb's language, and over-doing it at that! People simply forget that the "myself" cannot be used as a subject, it has to be used as an object.

Quite often a person begins his own introduction as "Myself XYZ" as if that was a sentence in itself. "I am XYZ" or "My name is XYZ" is a complete sentence. "Myself XYZ" is just meaningless crap.

TIP: Remember that no English sentence in the active voice ever begins with an object. And "myself" can only be used as an object. "Let me introduce myself. I am XYZ." Or, if you are that kind of guy, remember the famous line "My name is Zurga".

For your (kind) information

Another baddity (I wish that was a real word) that people seem to have picked up is the unnecessary use of "kind" in this phrase. It's simply incorrect! Doesn't compute!

When you want to provide some information to someone, you can begin the sentence with "For your information, blah ..." putting a "kind" into that is simply wrong ... what could it possibly mean?

The correct place for kind when responding to someone else's information by saying "Thanks for your kind information!" That would be a slang contraction of "Thanks for being kind enough to provide this information!"

TIP: Remember the common chat acronym "FYI" ... it is not "FYKI"!

But there's a subtle twist to this one ... "kind" is normally put in to denote a hint of sarcasm when the information provided was unwelcome ... "Thanks for your kind information, but I never really asked for it, so shut up!" ... which is exactly what I am about to do, anyway!

Written by sameer in Uncategorized on Tue 28 December 2004. Tags: idle thoughts,


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