First steps to tidying up your English
So you just realised you need a communication makeover – and quickly. While there is no magic wand that can instantly alter your communication skills, one of the most effective ways of enhancing the way you come across is watching how you speak.
Here are a couple of quick fixes that will make a noticeable difference.
1. Do away with other language colloquialisms. So, no more ‘Come, da’ or ‘But I told her, na.’
2. Speak clearly. Enunciate (sound) your words carefully and use correct pronunciation. When in doubt, use a dictionary.
3. Get yourself a language-buddy. Find someone who speaks English well. Request your buddy to correct your grammatical, pronunciation and usage errors. IMPLEMENT those corrections.
4. Never switch off. Don’t set aside a time to speak correctly. Your efforts at improvement should be on 24/7!
To help you along, let’s cover some common errors that many of us make:
‘Say’ and ‘Tell’
How often have you heard someone say, “I would like to tell about my family”?
Is that correct? What do you think?
The verb ‘to tell’ is generally used in indirect speech, and is always followed by a noun or a pronoun.
I would like to tell Hari (or you or Mrs. Brown or the class) about my family.
We sometimes come across sentences like:
She told like this.
They told to leave.
A better version would be:
She said, “I am very angry with you.”
They said, “Please leave.” OR They told us to leave.
Adding words that are not required
Sometimes, we string on words that are not required, like in the sentences below:
At what time will you return back?
I don’t think so it is difficult.
When should we start for this activity?
The words in red, namely ‘back’, ‘so’ and ‘for’ are redundant/grammatically incorrect in the sentences. The sentences should read as:
At what time will you return?
I don’t think it is difficult. OR I don’t think so.
When should we start this activity?
Another example I’d like to mention here is:
What is your good name?
This, as you can see, is a literal translation of the Hindi ‘aapka shubh naam kya hain’. There is no corresponding substitute for ‘shubh’ in English in this context, so when you make introductions, please, please stick to the plain and simple:
What is your name?
Quick Quiz 1: Spot the errors
a. Please reply back to me as soon as possible.
b. You need not to be worried.
c. What in case if she does not come?
d. I am very much annoyed with you.
e. As per my teammate Bhanu explained…
a. Please reply to me as soon as possible.
b. You need not be worried. OR You need not worry.
c. What if she does not come? OR What in case she does not come?
d. I am very annoyed with you
e. As my teammate Bhanu explained…