That atrocious headline is intentional. It should read Common English Mistakes made by People in India OR Common English Mistakes Indians make.
We often make mistakes in our English and don’t realize our errors. Try reading this:
She has to improvise her English otherwise she would fail in the board exam. She could be rest assured that school principal would not facilitate a poor performer. She calls the tutor.
“Myself Mahajan. And yourself?” comes the voice.
“Myself Truti. Sir, I need help with boards. I want to get 100%. Not loose a single mark. So please don’t oversee anything. What would you suggest me?”
“I will revert back to you tomorrow with some ideas which will have some good affect!”
“Yes, please suggest me and reply back. Sir you have really peaked my interest. Can I call you tomorrow around 5 PM?”
“Yes please! Don’t worry! I am sure you will be coping up well! I will give you best guidance!”
“Thank you sir. But what you are charging sir?”
Now make a guess to answer this question:
The passage above has the following number of mistakes:
- Less than 4
- More than 12
If you guessed option 4, you’re right. The above example has seventeen common English mistakes.
While we aren’t grammar Nazis, we do hold writers up to a higher standard. We often reject books submitted to our book club. Sometimes we refuse workshop applications because of English usage like the example above.
This article is a guide to such mistakes we see in English. This list is organic and will keep growing, so come back and check in every once in a while for updates.
List of Common English Mistakes
Common English Mistake #1:Facilitate vs Felicitate
To facilitate is to help or make it easier. To felicitate is to honour. Usage examples: A phone call from the MLA facilitated the admission. She was felicitated with a medal, plaque, and the chief guest mentioned her in the speech.
Common English Mistake #2:Improve vs Improvise
To improve is to make something better. To improvise is to do Jugaad in the absence of an ideal solution e.g. since I had no umbrella, I had to improvise with a plastic bag.
Common English Mistake #3: Effect vs Affect
This is not India-specific, but a universal issue. Affect is the verb for having an impact on something, make a difference to. E.g. his principal’s presence affected his confidence. Effect is an outcome – the end impact on something. E.g.: The drought effected the crops. One easy way to remember this is: “A” for affect and also for action. E for effect and also end.
Common English Mistake #4: Revert back
That is a double negative, revert already has a “back” built into it.
Common English Mistake #5: Reply back
Again, a double negative, reply already has a “back” built into it.
Common English Mistake #6: Oversee vs overlook
To oversee something is to supervise an activity. To overlook something is to miss out on a detail, or forget about something. However, confusingly, oversight is used for both: the past tense of overlook, and also the act of overseeing something.
Common English Mistake #7: Loose vs lose
Loose means not firm. It is the opposite of tight. To lose something is to misplace something, or to be deprived or cease to have something.
Common English Mistake #8: Be rest assured vs rest assured
The be rest assured is the wrong usage. Just rest assured is enough e.g. Rest assured, all details will be taken care of. (no “be” required before rest assured)
Common English Mistake #9: Suggest me vs Suggest
“Suggest me” is wrong. “Suggest to me” or “suggest for me” is right. Or you can say “what do you suggest I do?” But if someone says. “My school principal needs a new English teacher, you can always say “Please suggest me.” (although recommend or introduce would be better words).
Common English Mistake #10: Was vs Were
Normally, this is pretty easy. “Was” is the singular past tense of to be. ‘We’ is used for both the third person plural past tense (they and we) and the second person past tense (you).
The problem mostly happens in what the English Teacher calls the “subjunctive mood” (which is fancy English for unreal stuff: hopes/dreams) e.g. I wish I was a little fatter. In subjunctive mood you always use “were” e.g. I wish I were a little fatter.
Common English Mistake #11: Myself Mahajan vs My name is Mahajan.
This usage is classic Indian and is grammatically incorrect. Besides, you sound like an office babu from the 1970s.
Common English Mistake #12: Coping vs Coping up
The up is redundant. Coping is enough. E.g. she is coping well with the situation. No “up” required. In the sample conversation between Truti and her tutor, the sentence ” I am sure you will be coping up well.” Can simply be “I am sure you will cope well.”
Common English Mistake #13: Pique vs Peak (vs peek)
Pique is to get someone’s attention or interest. Peak is the top of a mountain, or a chart, or even an athlete’s performance. Peek is to secretly look at something. E.g. This statement really piqued my interest. Usain Bolt was in peak form during the London Olympics. He peeked into his neighbour’s answer as he went to get another answer sheet.
Common English Mistake #14: Can I vs May I
Can is the ability to do something. May is the permission to do it. So saying, “Can I leave the room?” is moot – of course, you can (unless you’re in jail). But if you’re in a classroom, the English teacher should ideally turn around and say, “Yes you can leave the room, but you may not”.
Common English Mistake #15: The missing “the”
We often tend to miss out on “The” in our Language. Like the sentence, “I will give you best guidance.” It should be “I will give you the best guidance”.
Common English Mistake #16: Overuse of exclamation marks.
We seem to love them, but using them all the time (like myself Mahajan does) makes them irrelevant and irritating.
Common English Mistake #17: the “What you are” usage.
In the sample, Truti closes with the question, “But what you are charging sir?”. That is inelegant and grammatically incorrect. The “What” would be better as “How much”, and the “you are” should be “do you”, thus making the sentence: “How much do you charge, sir?
Common English Mistake #18: Maybe Vs May be.
Maybe when used together mean (possibly / perhaps) E.g. Maybe I’ll come to the cricket Match.
May be is also used as “might be”. E.g. There may be some petrol in the bike. There may be some leftover cake in the fridge.
The above mistakes are from the sample we presented, and it isn’t comprehensive. There are many other common English mistakes. If you have a pet peeve not shared on this list, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. with the subject “more common English mistakes.” We’ll add yours to this list.