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English Lesson for Professionals

Notwithstanding geographical colloquialisms, first languages and making small allowances for spelling mistakes, here’s a quick guide to how to alienate potential professional clients.

  1. Incorrect use of pronouns, etc. When including yourself and others in the subject of a sentence, it is ‘(the other people) and I’, and never ‘myself and (the other people). First of all it’s rude to put yourself first, and secondly the use of ‘myself’ is inversely pretentious in that people think it makes them sound clever whereas the truth is it identifies your lack of understanding of your own language.
  2. The words myself, yourself, ourselves should pretty much ONLY be used when the subject AND the object are the same, e.g. ‘I gave myself a wedgie’, ‘We should pat ourselves on the back’. They are NOT to be used willy-nilly, and never as the subject of a sentence.
  3. Try not to use the word ‘obviously’, which is used nowadays instead of ‘actually’. Generally, both are or have been used because the speaker is taking too fast and is trying not to say ‘erm’. If it is obvious, why even say it?
  4. Another verbal tick is the prolific use of ‘sort of’, ‘kind of’ and ‘like’ every fifth word, again used because the speaker is not thinking ahead of what they are saying, but behind.
  5. It is NOT ‘could of’, should of’ or would of’. The second word is ‘have’, not ‘of’. It’s a failing people have of spelling words as they hear them. The ‘of’ misuse is the result of hearing would’ve, could’ve and should’ve.
  6. Many words have the letter ‘t’ in them. I am not aware at the moment of any words with a silent ‘t’, particularly the silent ‘double t’. So there are no words like Gih, thah kihhen, smihhen, bihher, lehher. Sound the ‘t’, it is there for a reason.
  7. When writing, using apostrophes isn’t hard. It’ll take you 5 minutes to learn what they’re for and how to learn them. (Not what ‘there for’ or ‘their for’, by the way. That’s another easy thing to learn – which spelling to use, when.)
  8. People rarely turn around and say anything. They face you. They do occasionally open a sentence with ‘Aw’ when you are quoting them, but not every time you quote them.
  9. You do not pronounce a question mark. It is not pronounced ‘Or’. If you say, “Are you going to the shops or”, you have pronounced the ‘?’ or have failed/are too lazy to consider the alternatives yourself. It is “Are you going to the shops?” The respondent can fill in their own gaps. Probably not by turning around or saying ‘Aw’.

I’ll thank you for using better English, and I’ll also thank you for not criticising me for helping you by telling you when you’re the one talking badly. And reminding you when you insist on doing it even after you’ve been repeatedly told.

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