sometimes being direct is the best way

If you don’t like your cousin, you should write:

I don’t like my cousin.

Seriously. You don’t need to replace ‘like’ with fancy words, especially when you’re not sure of the meaning. Just because a sentence is simple, it doesn’t make it bad.

Today I came across this sentence: ‘I didn’t favour my cousin.’ From context, that didn’t really make sense. Someone was asking the narrator to share a room with said cousin, whom the narrator obviously dislikes. 

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‘join’ and ‘attend’

Let’s talk about the word ‘join’. We use it a lot in rojak Malay … and the usage translates wrongly when used in proper English. Semua benda nak join, kan? Join webinar petang ni, join concert malam esok, join jungle trekking hujung minggu depan. When you say that in Malay, you mean something like ‘we’re going to go do this thing together with other people’. It doesn’t quite mean that in English, unfortunately. See sense 3 and 4 in the definitions here.

It’s usually used in something like this:

Aku nak pergi breakfast. Kau nak join?

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‘stressed’ and ‘stressful’

Anyone else feeling stressed out? I’ve been editing an article about stress, and now I’m all jittery and restless, both because of the content and the misuse of the word ‘stressful’. 

Working from home is stressful.  ✅

I feel stressful when I have to work from home.  ❌

Okay, so what is the difference between stressed and stressful? Both are adjectives. However, they don’t mean the same thing. 

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‘discuss’ and ‘have a discussion about’

Here’s a pretty common mistake I see in Malaysian English:

We are here to discuss about the long-term effects of social isolation. ❌

It doesn’t sound wrong, does it? But here’s the thing: it’s either you ‘discuss’ something or ‘have a discussion about’ something. 

We are here to discuss the long-term effects of social isolation. ✔️
We are here to have a discussion about the long-term effects of social isolation. ✔️

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look up your loanwords

I was editing a passage about a young woman who enjoyed baking, and her interest in making cute cakes came from her grandmother, who baked every weekend for her guests who came for high tea. Thus: ‘She vowed that she would become a patisserie.’

It startled me into laughter. Aspiring to become a French bakery wasn’t a terrible career choice, all in all. 

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