"Indianisms" That May Be Ruining Your Writing

Written By: Inderpreet Uppal

Our grasp of the English language is uniquely colored by our behavior and phrases of our native language, we tend to mould it, twist it, bend it and at times abuse it as per our convenience. Here I share some of the more popular twists to the language which are hard to miss and do cause errors especially when we use them on a professional level.


I am sure most of you would have come across a few and tried to be polite and overlook them at a social gathering or subtly correct it in case of official documents or communication. Some very obvious ones I share with you in the hope that we can spread awareness to overcome these and avoid the confusion and awkwardness even thought they might be convenient at times.

1.   Years back….. The event occurred years ago and not years back as we tend to often say. We did not go back to the time of the event just spoke as if we did so.

2.   The Backside Entrance - Definitely not at the backside of a building because it does not have buttocks but a rear entrance!

3.   Out of Station – This is the old way of telling someone that you are not in town, rather one should say that “I am out of Gurgaon.” Or “I will be back in town in 4 days.” Use  station only if you are a train or engine.

4.   Your Good Name Please? – It is the literal translation of the Hindi sentence asking someone “Aap ka Shubh Naam?” hence the need to say good before the name, it’s not as if  we also have an evil alter ego/name to go with the good one.

5.   The Present Continuous Tense –This is one of the most common errors while speaking and it tells us of someone doing something, the chances of errors are quite high. For example, “ He is loving this video game” is wrong , the right one will be “He loves this video game.”

6.   Incorrect Questions – Coming or not? She is here, no? Asking questions and giving answers at the same time is another common mistake we tend to make. Surely some of us are not mind readers or someone might know….right?

7.   Let us discuss about – We just need to discuss the topic not ‘add about’ to it because to talk about is to discuss. “We must discuss about the merger today.” Is wrong, it should be “Let us discuss the merger today.”

8.   Adding OK To All Sentences – It might be a remnant from the need to say “Theek Hai” in Hindi after giving instructions to someone. Also to make sure the other guy understands what we are telling them, still we must check back after every sentence.

9.   My Real Brother Or Sister - It’s our way of explaining that we have immediate siblings as well as cousins. Everyone else only has brothers and sisters but we have real brothers and sisters and cousin brother and sisters. Well to be honest, this one I have used and proudly too.

1.  Let Us Order For the Chicken/Italian/ soft drink – anything we order, it does not need ‘Order for’ but just ‘order’. We use for  just to emphasis exactly what we want to eat.

1.  Prepone – If we can postpone things we can surely prepone them, why should we use a difficult word like reshedule. This one is exclusively Indian in its origin and totally incorrect to use. Not that it stops us from using it.

1.  Sleep is coming – No, it is not that our sleep likes to walk but it is the literal translation of the Hindi sentence “Mujhe neend aarahi hai”. Sometimes it’s just easier for us to forget that the meaning changes with the change in language.

1.   Passing out – It seems all Indians pass out from their colleges and Institutions. We do not graduation but a passing out and then our parents wake us up and take us home.

1.  Please / Kindly revert – Yes by all means let us all go back to the dark ages as revert means to go back in thought, to return to a former condition or a reversion. Kindly reply or respond will do quite nicely.

1.  Only – “she is here only” or “you can see the table here only”. It seems that we have an unknown desire to add only after every sentence so that the sentence is not alone…..

1.   Myself Geeta - It is the perfect way of getting a good laugh out of your audience or of failing any interview. Why can we not just say, “my name is geeta”, sure it will not get you any laughs but we can sacrifice some humor for the seriousness of our name.

1.  Taking my tea - every time we say this it means that we are taking the item somewhere. Maybe to the park? “Do take some more laddoos.” We just love to tell people to take things; does it make us feel like great philanthropists?

1.   Danced on – yep! we might be really hip and funky but we do dance on a groovy number. We don’t like dancing to a groovy number but on it. It’s as if we stomped on it hard enough the singer will appear and ask for mercy.

1.  Put on the blub or tube and put the green shirt – the word Put is used in places it has absolutely no relevance. Well it does fill up some empty spaces when we are at a loss of words. We just don’t like saying, “Turn on or Switch on the blub”, put is so much easier and simpler – all of us get it too!

2.  Do one thing – we never mean to do one thing but we just like our sentences to start that way. “ Do one thing, set the alarm, lock the door and switch off the light.” I am sure almost everyone of us has either heard it or said it. Stop using the ‘do one thing’ phrase because we never stop at one thing….dil maange more!

2.  I am having a headache, this make us proud, paying attention, Xerox instead of photocopy and cent percent instead of a hundred percent the list is endless.
2
.  u want 2 c a movi tmrw… cud u spk 2 ur @” this is what the present generation and the future of our country writes when using the smart technology of today. Need I say more?


These are so thoroughly entrenched in our language, both written and spoken that most of the time we do not even realize that we are using these in our vocabulary. The true mark of assimilating a language into a new or different country is when we have a healthy mix of the words from both countries. We have many words and phrases in English which have stood the test of time like ashram, bungalow, yogi, veranda, orange and jungle, etc. This Indianism of Indian English language can add unique character to the language just as the US English or Australian English is different from the UK or British English but we must remember to get our grammar right.

About the author:

Inderpreet Kaur is a freelance writer, has a Masters Degree in Human Resources Management, was a lecturer and is a mother. She loves to read, travel, discuss and write. Writing comes to her naturally as a gift from her parents whose love of the English language and correct expression has become a way of life for her. You can read some of her writings of inderpreetkaur.blogspot.in   

3 comments:

  1. Tasty . Would share a personal one. love approval for consumed snakes! Bravo keep writing. regards Amitpal

    ReplyDelete
  2. some fine examples..... nicely presented.

    ReplyDelete

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