Friday, June 20, 2008

Tips on English - Part 2

Another useful piece from Supantha Banerjee on tackling English
Cultural differences
Same words may mean different things to different people. E.g. ‘Fix a flat’ may mean, ‘arrange for an apartment’ in some parts of the world, whereas the expression may mean, ‘fix a broken tyre/tire (both are correct, though ‘tyre’ is more common in India where as in US ‘tire’ means car tire) of your car. The example stresses that the content of a communication package should be written keeping the receiver in mind.
Short & Sweet
Shorter sentences are always better and create less confusion in the minds of people. Shorter usually means clearer, less awkward and unambiguous. Given an option a sentence should be revised to make it shorter.
Jane and her boss have differences over the way in which the program should work.
The sentence above is wordy. A better version of the above sentence could be:
Jane and her boss differ over how the program should work.
Consider As
Consider means ‘regard as’. Usage of ‘consider as’ is incorrect at the least and wordy at the best. As should never follow consider although we see this usage time and time again.
Incorrect: Bob is considered as a guru in Oracle
Correct: Bob is considered a guru in Oracle

Incorrect: Consider this email as my code review sign-off
Correct: Consider this email my code review sign-off
Magic Modifier
Incorrect placement of a modifier in a sentence can change the meaning of the entire sentence. E.g. Great care should be taken to align the word ‘only’ with the word it actually modifies.

I coded the new program only yesterday – I don’t need to code any today.
I coded only the new program yesterday – I did not code any other program.
I only coded the new program yesterday – I did not do anything else.
Only I coded the new program yesterday – Nobody else coded any.

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