Common English Mistakes Made Here (Singapore)I would like to bring to the attention of all English-speaking Singaporeans the most glaring and widely made mistakes in our society.
1. The difference between 'send', 'take', 'bring' and 'fetch'
"Take" is used when you go from one place to another, and the thing (or person) goes with you.
"Bring" is used when you come towards a place from another place, and the thing (or person) comes with you.
"Fetch" is used when you leave some place to get something (or someone), and then return, bringing the thing (or person) with you.
"Send" is used when something (or someone) goes away from you, but you don't go along.
Singaporeans are way too fond of saying "I'll send you home". They should say "I'll take you home" instead.
You send someone off at the airport, that is, you see them go, but you don't go with them.
You send a letter to someone - you drop it off at the mailbox, but you don't go with the letter.
2. Requests should be in the form of 'Would you' or 'May I', not 'Can you' or 'Can I'
"Can" refers to the ability to do something.
3. When one resides in a place permanently, one 'lives' there, not 'stays'
This is a mistake often seen in the newspapers, much to my dismay.
You go on vacation and stay at a hotel, but you live in a Housing Board apartment in Toa Payoh.
The next time you want to know where someone resides, ask "where do you live", not "where do you stay".
4. 'Last time' is often erroneously used in place of 'long ago', 'once', 'before' or 'previously', depending on context
"Last time" refers to a single occurrence directly prior to the present time, not something that happened long ago, nor something that happened continually in the past.
That means you shouldn't say: "Last time I broke my tooth before."
You should say: "When I was young, I broke my tooth."
You shouldn't say: "Last time our grandmothers cooked over a charcoal stove".
Instead, you should say: "Long ago, our grandmothers cooked over a charcoal stove."
But you can say: "The last time my brother tried to fry an egg, he almost burned the kitchen down."
5. It is more appropriate to say 'good food' than 'nice food'
Food is good, people are nice - that is what I always say.
There are specific circumstances when "nice" can be applied to food, such as when describing its appearance: "That's a very nice omelette."
But most of the time, when we refer to the taste of food, it is better to use "good", as in "Mmm... This is good!"
6. It is more appropriate to say 'damaged' or 'broken' than 'spoiled/spoilt' when referring to things
Toys break; equipment gets damaged; but food spoils and children are spoilt.
"Spoil" can be applied to extensive damage or serious devaluing of something, such as "littering spoils the landscape of our beaches".
Otherwise, for more minor things, use "damaged" or "broken". For example, "this phone is damaged; I can't call out", and "You mustn't give away broken toys to the children's home".