10 Things I Hate About You (Grammatically!)

The writer in me has a peculiar affinity to grammar. Actually make it correct grammar – good, clean grammar. Grammar that doesn’t hurt my sensibilities and doesn’t make my ear drums bleed from the loss of my brain cells. This occurs with a rather alarming, unfortunate frequency, whenever a cringeworthy sentence full of atrocious grammar travels from my auditory and/or visual system to my poor, hapless brain, causing the said loss and probably destroying a couple of my IQ points.

The writer in me is also very peculiarly patriotic, and a proud one at that, or so my regular readers would know. Continuing the tradition, because as Indians, we are nothing if not traditional!, lets explore the connection between the two great loves of my life – Indianness and grammar! Furthermore, if any grammar nazi wants to comment on my innovation of the term ‘Indianness’, I will approve, but beg for some proverbial author privileges, it’s just another abstract noun! My sorry excuse is that I am very creative with my patriotism! Also a little scathing. Sometimes.

The English language is more complicated than any metaphor or simile my brain can conjure. So you should get the drift. If you didn’t, go back to a classroom. Figures of speech await you with open arms and bated breath. Irony is a beautiful thing. It’s almost worth going back. Almost.

Indian modifications sometimes work wonders on foreign things, say Chinese food. Or Proda handbags. They look just like their Prada counterparts, if you can’t spell. Or don’t look closely enough! What’s a little harmless ‘a’ in the larger scheme of things, eh? Sadly, that can’t be said about the Indian grammar variant of the English one. We tweak it and twist it and make it our own. We also destroy it, defile it, dismantle it and wreck it. (Yes, I love my adjectives, they fuel my melodramatic tendencies.) Lets familiarise ourselves with a few glistening, effulgent illustrations of the unholy copulation of Indianness and English grammar!

1. “Awaiting your reply. Please revert.”

Some dictionary trying to compete with Webster tells me the phrase above means ‘to return to an earlier or primitive state’ Next time you enclose a letter draft with this little pearl of wisdom, I hope you don’t expect your sendee to revert to his/her biological primitive state, which in this case will be an ape, provided you are communicating with humans and not aliens, because their primitive state, like their present state, is still a mystery. Also, I should warn you out of the kindness of my heart, that this phrase might be downright impossible, not to mention outright rude. (Downright , outright. Yes, the usage was very much intentional.I am a good teacher. Scratch that. I am an excellent teacher!)

2. “He is off” ‘Wo off hogaye’

Off to Mars? Oh no, you mean he is no more! Not to sound insensitive, but the poor guy wasn’t a light bulb. Show some respect? This Hinglish will be the death of grammar in the universe! Excuse the horrendous pun. It wasn’t intended. Not completely, atleast.

3. “I passed out in 2009″

You did? Who caught you? Did you just awake? How was the long slumber? Say hi to almost 2014! Dear Readers. This is a very common mistake. We don’t pass out of an educational institute. We graduate! Passing out implies fainting, losing consciousness which most of us save for result day, not graduation day! So, unless you participated in a passing out parade in an army school or its equivalent, refrain from telling the world about your swooning issues.

4. “Do the needful”

Let me assure you, nobody whose native language is English will be caught dead with this phrase coming out of their mouths anymore! To my admittedly perverted brain, ‘Do the needful’ just begs for toilet humour. And also reeks of history! So unless you are a dinosaur, please do not use this outdated terminology. If you do, you might just receive a telegram from your ancestors. They will be asking for their language back!

5. “Do one thing”

If someone begins their sentence with this phrase, never learn grammar from them. Also, run as fast as you can- in the opposite direction. ‘One thing’ is never one thing. It is atleast five things, minimum. Moreover, this phrase was coined in the echelons of the overactive imaginations of an Indian mind, not in the grammar textbook of the English language! So please, do the needful?!!

6. “Let us discuss about this.”

To discuss is to talk over, talk about, or talk through. Hence you have to be smart enough to understand a little ‘redundancy’ when it is staring in your face! Next time, don’t talk about about, just discuss!

7. “Fun is coming”

Is it now? Tell it I said hello!! Anthropomorphism, I get it! But why not keep it simple, silly!

8.” Petrol prices suck Mr. Politician!!”

A tiny piece of punctuation, just after suck, would have saved the day. Probably also prevented a lawsuit. The comma is your miraculous, life saving best friend! Use it wisely! Yes, it also keeps the pervert in you under house arrest!

9. She didn’t did her homework!

Is that so? That little minx! The use of ‘did’ with present tense makes me very tensed! (You see what I did there, not their! )

10. “Prepone”

The most famous, widely acceptable blunder of all times! You simply cannot bring a rendezvous forward, no Sir! You prepone it! Even though the word might not exist in any dictionary known to muggles or wizards! Three words. Don’t. Use. It.

One advice, (not advise) – Don’t help yourself to these trinkets in the great Indian Grammar Debacle. Know your grammar, because it’s the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit!

– Article by Shivani


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