Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tips on English - 1

Supantha Banerjee has sent a useful piece on the errors made in English by most .
Let us re-learn a few things and apply those before hitting the ‘send’ button next time!
Advice Vs. Advise
Nine out of ten writers make this mistake.
Example - Joe, find the analysis below. Please review and advice.
There are two possible errors in the sentence that is marked bold. The sentence (a) lacks parallelism (advice, a noun, does not go well with review, a verb) and (b) it does not have the required verb. The intent of the sentence is to request Joe to review the analysis and provide feedback/guidance. The word ‘Advice’ is a noun, whereas ‘Advise’ is a verb. So ‘advise’ should be used in place of ‘advice’ for the above example.
The sentence would be correct if re-written as:
Please review and advise – Using correct verb form of ‘advice’ or
Please review and provide advice – Using ‘advice’ as noun
It’s Vs. Its
One particular error that never ceases to make me cringe is the misuse of the words ‘it's’ and ‘its’.
‘It’s’ is a contraction and abbreviated form of ‘It is’ or ‘It has’. Usage of ‘it’s’ is similar to that of ‘that’s’. ‘It’s’ in a sentence is correct if ‘it’s’ can be replaced by ‘it is’ without making the sentence awkward! Let me quote a famous line from a popular song (by Bojoura, a Dutch singer) for explanation:
If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium,
If it’s Wednesday, this must be Rome….
Let’s replace ‘it’s’ by ‘it is’
If it is Tuesday, this must be Belgium
If it is Wednesday, this must be Rome…
The sentence still carries the intended meaning and it is grammatically correct. By the way, do listen to the song, which was later adapted to create a Hindi classic in 1973! (Does “Churaliya” sound familiar?)
‘Its’ is a possessive pronoun. Usage of ‘its’ is similar to that of ‘his’, ‘her’ or ‘mine’
A word of advice (not advise) would be to refrain from usage of ‘it’s’ and write the full expression ‘it is’. Shorter does not always have to be better!
Doing good?
How often have you heard this expression? Countless times! Even though it ‘sounds good’, it’s not grammatically correct. In the above expression the word ‘good’ is trying to modify the verb. But ‘good’ is always an adjective and cannot be used as adverb.
Incorrect: I am doing good
Correct: I am doing well or I am doing fine

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