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Nine common English bloopers

By Snehal Roshan, Nirpinder Singh
June 01, 2007 12:20 IST
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English mistakes can be humorous, annoying or both. One thing is sure, consistent bloopers will make you seem foolish. Eventually, you may even lose confidence in speaking the language.

Therefore, it helps to practise everyday and work on improving even the smallest of gaffes.

Let's get started!

Snehal Roshan, from Mumbai, hates seeing English used so casually and incorrectly. She writes that she has come across these mistakes frequently:

1. I didn't knew her mother when I was young.

If it was affirmative, it would be 'I knew her mother when I was young.' In this case, the negative, past verb 'did not' denotes the past tense, making 'knew' unneeded. It should be:

~ I didn't know her mother when I was young.

2. I prefer studying in the midnight.

3. I prefer studying at the morning.

In the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening all denote a general time. For a specific time, such as noon and night, you must use 'at'. It should be:

~I prefer studying at midnight.

~I prefer studying in the morning.

4. I was excepting a better show.

5. No one showed up to the party, accept Dipti and Rishi.

6. Will you expect my sincere apologies?

These words are often confusing for some people: except, expect and accept. Except is to omit or leave out. Expect is to demand or to count on. Accept means to acknowledge, admit.

~ I was expecting a better show.

~ No one showed up at the party, except Dipti and Rishi.

~ Will you accept my sincere apologies?

7. On what bases can you argue with me?

8. Where are the criminal basis in Mumbai?

Bases and basis essentially, mean the same but it is important to use the right word in the right place. Base is a foundation (as in a building, structure). Basis is also a foundation in terms of a fundamental or principle; it is abstract.

~  On what basis can you argue with me?

~  What are the criminal bases in Mumbai?

Nirpinder Singh, a 51-year-old teacher from Punjab, discovered this howler on a recent business trip. On the thermostat inside his hotel room, a sign read:  

9. In case of feeling of Hot or Cold please to control yourself

This is all jumbled and makes no sense! Instead, it should be:

~ In case you find the temperature too hot or too cold, please turn the thermostat switch to the desired setting to regulate the temperature.


We thank our readers for the witty emails detailing common English bloopers they've come across! Keep them coming in, and we'll keep publishing. Three times a week, we'll provide articles featuring your responses.

If you'd like to share common bloopers you come across when people speak/ write in English, do mail your list of common bloopers, along with their correct alternative to -- we'll highlight them right here as a helpful guide to those trying to improve their English. Also make sure you include your FULL NAME, AGE, OCCUPATION and the CITY you are based in.

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Snehal Roshan, Nirpinder Singh