How to avoid these mistakes in English

COMPREHENSIVE FLUENT-ENGLISH USAGE™

By Prof. Kev Nair


When you speak or write English, do you make many mistakes? Do you often fail to use words and word-groups in the way in which they’re currently used in English?

In fact, almost everyone makes some mistake or other -- at some time or other. This is a fact. Most advanced learners do. Even expert-level users of English sometimes do. Yes, almost everyone tends to make mistakes. This happens especially when they use words and word groups in particular contexts. Only, some people make fewer mistakes, and others, more.

These mistakes take several forms: Many people tend to use words and phrases in ways that modern English usage does not accept as correct or proper. Many give words and phrases meanings that are different from their meanings in current usage. Many go against the currently accepted grammar of those words and phrases. Many use two or more words together in ways that are considered unacceptable in current usage. Many use word combinations that the current usage considers unacceptable. Many confuse one word with another.

Why you should avoid these mistakes

1). These mistakes prevent the English you speak or write from being accepted as good English.

2). And worse, these mistakes prevent you from being clear to your listeners or readers -- because the listeners and readers expect words and phrases to carry only those meanings that the current usage has assigned to them. And they expect only those words to be used together that sound right (according to the current usage) when used together.

3). And there’s yet another problem. If you’re not sure of the principles of current usage, you’ll run into a serious difficulty: Suppose you’re in the middle of saying something or writing something. And suppose a doubt comes up in your mind whether it’s acceptable to put words together in a particular way. Then this is what happens: Your attention gets diverted from what you’re saying or writing -- to the language you’re using to compose it. That is, you’re now concerned not about the content, but about the form. And you lose the thread of what you’re saying or writing. And the result? The flow of your speech or writing gets cut off -- slowed down. And you falter. And all this makes it difficult for you to remain fluent.

How correct usage helps you communicate effectively

The tips on usage I’ll be posting here have two related aims:

(i) To make you become aware of the common usage-related mistakes -- mistakes that even highly educated people tend to make in English; and

(ii) To tell you how to avoid those mistakes.

Study these notes carefully. And don’t let the lack of awareness of current English usage prevent you from speaking and writing English fluently. And accurately, clearly and effectively. That is, as accurately, as clearly and as effectively as the situation needs -- and permits.


English Usage Tip for the week

Posted on November 6, 2019

Copyright © Kev Nair 2019. All rights reserved.

“look forward to” OR “look forwards to”?: What’s the correct usage?

We saw one thing in the last week’s tip on English usage: We saw that you can say “you look forward to something” or “you look forward to doing something” when you hope for something to happen and expect to enjoy it.

Here are two of the examples we saw:

They looked forward to the photo exhibition/ holiday/ comedy show.

They looked forward to going to the photo exhibition/ holiday/ comedy show.

Now, here’s something you should be very careful about: The word you should use is “forward” (without an ‘s’ at the end), and not “forwards” (with an ‘s’).

That is, say “look forward to” (without an ‘s’), but never “look forwards to” (with an ‘s’). Never. Here are some examples:

We’ve been looking forward / forwards to their visit/ the meeting/ the New Year.

She looked forward / forwards to the birth of her new baby/ her weekend trip.

Are you looking forward / forwards to the evening/ your new job/ your retirement?

They looked forward / forwards to going to the photo exhibition/ holiday/ comedy show.

It’s our annual dinner next Sunday, and we’re looking forward / forwards to having you as our chief guest.

They were all looking forward / forwards to seeing you last evening.

Copyright © Kev Nair 2019. All rights reserved.


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