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The most common usage mistakes in Indian English

very less | too vs. very | much vs. many (mass nouns) | tell vs. say | here vs. there | "is it?" | 9 o'clock mtg.

1. very less instead of very little (for mass-nouns) or very few (for countable nouns.)


It's equally odd to say: "The mosquitoes tonight are very more".

"More" and "less" are opposite terms of comparison. Less is a grammatical particle in the English language, functioning as an adverb that modifies comparatives, just as "more" is used to form the comparative of some adjectives and adverbs; "less interesting"; "more beautiful"; "more quickly", "less expensive". (sources: Google, Wikipedia and WorldNet). It is a term of comparison and does not indicate a relative degree such as "a little bit", "a moderate amount" or "a lot". It's generally used to modify verbs pertaining to mass nouns. (Mass nouns are non-countable nouns such as rice, electricity, atta, equipment, feedback, traffic, etc. They are not pluralized. e.g. "softwares")

From Wikipedia:


More examples (more or less):

General rule: If you can't follow "less" with "than", don't use it.
It must be less than something else.





4. too instead of very

VERY simply means "a relatively high degree", but no problem.
implies something excessive, bad, wrong, etc. It means that something has crossed a line of acceptability.
















2. much vs. many and the confusion of mass nouns


When referring to a plural noun that can be COUNTED, you would use "many" as an intensifier. The modifier "much" is used for nouns that cannot be counted (mass nouns) and are generally not pluralized. When referring to a relatively large amount of any mass noun (Ex. milk, equipment, etiquette, software) then you use much. The preposition "of" is generally not used in such cases.


How many data are enough? - An article on some tricky "part-time" mass-nouns such as data and bacteria. Even people fall into this category!










3. tell instead of say


Tell always means "instruct", "inform" or "direct". The verb tell is usually followed by an object, that is, we usually say who is told. In other words, tell = say to. (learn more).


It's best to use "say" when no object is specified, (i.e. who is being told.)



Confusing verbs:

Talk the act of uttering words. One can talk and but not really say anything.
Speak almost the same as "talk" but usually used more formally.
Tell to inform or direct *someone*. Almost always followed by a person or people (being directed or informed.) This does not mean "ask". (Usually, 'tell' = 'say to' <someone>)
Say to send a message, usually (although not necessarily) via speech. It may be a question or a directive.
Ask to query

During a recent election I heard someone say, "'l'll see through the ballot."
(I thought the guy had X-Ray vision!)

Look means to direct your vision in a particular direction.
  "I'll look through the ballot and make my own decision."
  "Please look at me when I'm talking to you."
See means to perceive, find, locate.
  "I looked at the manual but I did not see the diagram I needed."
  "I can see through your dress. Please keep it on!"


5. revert instead of reply, respond, "get back to"


Using the word revert when you mean reply will confuse westerners. If you want someone to reply, respond or "get back" to you, say that.

Revert means to switch back to a previous state, to undo, to return to a former condition or practice. It does not mean to respond. Nor does it mean to return. (Some go so far as to say, "I will return to you" when they mean "I will reply to you.")

Correct examples:











"There" means NOT here.







The nine o'clock meeting (not very common but worth mention)

A meeting is scheduled at 9:00am.

Scenario 1:

Scenario 2:


"Is it?" is not an appropriate catch-all response!

Tara will be promoted next week. Is it?

He arrived early today. Is it?

I just got fired. Is it?

They will be bringing us gifts. Is it?

I have not booked the ticket yet. Is it?

I would like to learn Spanish someday. Is it?

All the computers are broken! Is it?

They're not coming to class today. Is it?

Two two of my eggs are broken! Is it?

It's very hot outside. Is it?

Its color is too bright for my taste. Is it?

Yes, it is!











The abysmal anectode - a true story!:

Explanation: The employee misused the words "abysmal" and "too". While abysmal does mean "extremely or immeasurably low", it is always used in a negative context. Examples: "abysmal grades"; "abysmal stupidity".  An "abysmal attrition level" is a horrible attrition level. (a high level of employee turnover.) He then followed it up with a misuse of "too" which also carries a negative connotation. "Too" means past a line of acceptability.

In this situation, (the intensifier) 'very' could have been used. This would have communicated that attrition is extremely low, which is something good.

The same person recently uttered the following!

Attrite is not a word!



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