We Filipinos always pride ourselves as the better English speakers in Asia. Of course, the Singaporeans, Malaysians, and Indians would contest that. No bother. English had been appropriated by many other non-native English speakers, that some had proposed to spell English as English, and that it could be plural – Englishes.
While we have our brand of Carabao English, it is still a sound position, however, to use English in speaking and writing as closely as the native English speakers (and writers) do. It is always better to be aware of some lapses we have in English grammar so we may improve our command of the language. We listed here some of the most common Pinoy practices in English that needs more improvement. We hope this article could help improve our performance in interviews, as well as in written tests we encounter in job-hunting.
- There is no need to introduce replies with “For me…,” “I think…,” “In my opinion…” and “I believe…” when asked about our ideas. This may have been a habit because we want to project modesty or humility, or trying to be safe by qualifying that what we have to say is only our own and should not be taken as a generalization. But that is exactly the point why we are being asked of our ideas or thoughts. Whatever we say is our opinion, of course, unless we are stating facts, which we cannot claim as our own anyway. When we say that the present government is lacking in social services, it is all ready presumed that it is our opinion, that it is true as far as we are concerned, and that we have thought about it and believe in it. So there is no need to stress that.
- In an interview, there is no need to repeat the question as a prelude to our answer. We can always get to the point. When asked, “How do you see yourself ten years from now?” we often answer “How I see myself ten years from now is…,” when we can always say, “I want to be a supervisor (or be a manager, or get married) by then.” Again, no need to say, “I think I want to be a supervisor by then.”
- When using the phrase “one of the…,” the next noun is always plural. For example: One of the problems we encounter as a graduate is the lack of jobs. There are many problems; we are identifying only one. So, one of the employees, one of the companies, one of the clients, one of the managers. And because we are referring to a singular subject, we also use the singular verb “is.”
- Avoid redundant phrases like “more harder,” “more prettier” “uniquely different,” or “gain my own self-confidence” and some such ignorance. Remember that “more” and the suffix -er to an adjective are both in the comparative degrees; we can use either one. To say that one is unique is also saying it is different from the rest. When we gain confidence in whatever we do, that confidence is always ours, and is about ourselves.
- When greeting somebody or answering a phone call, we can choose among the following English greetings: Hello, Hi, or Good Morning (Afternoon or Evening). There is no need to say Hello, good morning. In a phone call, we can say, “Hello, this is ______; may I help you? Companies have standards; we shall do better by checking out but there is absolutely no need to be redundant. Notice too, that “Good noon” is unnecessary because a half-second beyond noon, is already afternoon. And we never greet “Good Day” and “Good Night” unless we want to get rid of the person right away.
- When putting someone on hold on the phone, we always say, “For a while…” or “Just a moment…” which may be frustrating for the person on the other line. A “while” is a long time to wait, and a “moment” is only a few seconds. No one wants to wait longer than a moment, much more a while, so it is safer to say “hang on, please” or “hold, please.”
- Master the prepositions in, on, and at. These are used in that order from general to specific. As prepositions of time, “in” is used to refer to unspecified time of days (in the morning, in the afternoon), months (in September, in May), years (in 2018, in 1650), centuries (in the 16th century). “On” is used for days of the week (on Monday, on Saturday), days of the month and dates (on the Fourth of July, on June 12, on the 30th of October), as well as on holidays and specific days (on Christmas Day, on Valentines, on Labor Day), while “at” is used for specific time (at noon, at midnight, at 6:30 AM, at 5:00 PM) and for holidays without “day” (at Easter, at New Year’s). As prepositions of place, the general to specific rule is also followed as in these examples: I will wait for you at the coffee shop on Rizal Avenue in Iloilo City. While on a train in Bangkok, I forgot to get off at Asoke Station. I live at Apartment No.1 on Calle Real Boulevard in San Jose.
- Idiomatic expressions do not change, so do not say “”to cope up with” when it is only “to cope with.” Many say “last but not the least” when the correct expression is “last but not least.” Often we also hear someone “barking at the wrong tree” when he should be “barking up the wrong tree.” The verbs “avail” and “dispose” always need the preposition “of,” so that we can “avail of discounts” and “dispose of our garbage properly.”
We must be aware of our lapses in English to avoid making mistakes. There is hope in improving our carabao English, and we can get ahead in the game by observing how the native English speakers use the language and by read a lot. By doing so, we become more confident as we speak and write English.