Native Eigo-juku: Common Mistakes by Indian Speakers of English
Common Mistakes by Indian Speakers of English
We'll look at mistakes in both spoken and written English. Let's first start with written English.
Written English Mistakes
Overuse of the -ing form: Mistakes of this kind occur in writing and speech. There is a tendency to overuse the -ing form of the verb. For instance, in response to questions such as "Where do you work," speakers who are not fluent in English will write "I am working with an international law firm." Although the response is grammatically perfect, it may sound a tad unnatural to the native ear. A more appropriate answer would be "I work with an international law firm." Here's another example:
Incorrect: I am not knowing the password to the system; how can I access it?
Correct: I don't know the password to the system; how can I access it?
Overuse of the -ing form of the verb becomes a very grave issue in cases like the above. This is because some verbs like know, have, and hear are not commonly used in the -ing form. And such sentences, like the one in incorrect example, are grammatically incorrect.
Spoken English Mistakes
Incorrect use of reflexive pronouns: Many Indians tend use reflexive pronouns, especially myself, incorrectly. Myself can be used in a sentence only if the pronoun I has been used earlier, e.g., I built this house myself. However, a common mistake that people make is using myself without the I.
Incorrect: Myself, Rahul Verma; this is my colleague, Sheena.
Correct: I am Rahul Verma; this is my colleague, Sheena.
Using myself in place of I is mistakenly thought of as formal, though it is grammatically incorrect.
Misplaced stresses: There are no classic pronunciation mistakes that Indians make. However, sometimes, the influences of regional languages do creep into spoken English. For instance, people who speak Malayalam, a language spoken in southern India, tend to place additional emphasis on the vowels in words like sorry and water. Some pronounce it as sow-ree and waater. Further, Indians who speak Bengali tend to use a bh sound for words that begin with v, e.g., "bhery good" instead of "very good."
[Native Eigo-juku is the Cactus newsletter providing essential English tidbits to interested non-native English speakers.]
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