What are some common mistakes Indians make while communicating in English?
There are always mistakes that we commit in colloquial English which is true of any language. I don't think they should count towards this one, but sure enough a few mistakes I notice fellow Indians commit, almost invariably, which can't be discounted
- Alphabets instead of Alphabet or the Alphabet:
This one takes the stage! Classic!. Every fellow Indian I have met hitherto says that. For some reason, we tend to think that each of the a,b,c...z is individually an alphabet so together they are alphabets! This is not so. Alphabet is not specific to English language and it simply means a set of letters and characters; it may be thought of as the Indian equivalent of lipi. So you could say the Hindi alphabet is called Devnagari. Similarly you could say the Tamil alphabet, the Kannada alphabet and so on. Clear as mud?
- Using the word Prepone as the opposite of Postpone
You might think that if the prefix post means something which comes after, the logical opposite of postpone should be prepone. Unfortunately, there is no such word in English as prepone. I must admit that there doesn't seem to be a direct opposite of this word. You could say - the meeting (or some event) has been / was advanced or brought forward
- Anyways instead of Anyway:
There isn't any such word in classical English as Anyways! Always say anyway.
- Give an exam instead of Take an exam:
Another classic! This is (of course) not grammatically wrong, it is just used in the wrong context. As a student appearing for an examination (or a test), Indians will always say - I gave the exam. It seems to be coming from a direct translation of what we would say in Hindi (In Hindi, the expression indeed is just the opposite). Unfortunately, it is wrong to say like that in English and what's worse, it is NOT grammatically wrong but it may confuse someone whose native language is English since "giving an exam" is what a teacher does. My father used to explain me very clearly in this fashion
"A teacher gives an exam and a student takes it"
So, always say- I took an exam! (as a student of course)
- Answering "negative" questions with a Yes (in case the answer is negative)
When someone asks, Don't you like apples? (and assume the person who is being asked this question does not), we answer Yes, I don't. This confuses a person in case he is a native English speaker. Always answer by saying, No I don't.
Is he not coming?- NO, he isn't. (instead of YES he is not coming)
- Don't say a sentence like - "All people are not hardworking", SAY- "Not all people are hardworking".
- Introducing interrogative sentence when it is simply affirmative. We often say things like- "I don't know where is he", OR "I could never understand what was it about". These are not questions. The person simply wants to communicate that he did not know a certain thing, he does not intend to ask just in that moment.
So, say - "I don't know where he is" OR "I could never understand what it was about"
- Updation instead of update or updating
There is, again, no such word as Updation. Either say update or updating. (quite often noticed on banking forms, in India!)
E.g: This document needs updating. (not updation)