phrasing questions correctly

I’ve never been strict about using correct grammar in speech, especially when it’s in informal settings like in everyday conversation. It’s a bit of that ‘it’s okay as long as it’s understandable’ attitude that quite a few of us have, since we’re throwing so many languages into the mix and it’s impossible to set any standard of correctness anyway. However, it shouldn’t carry over into formal writing. Even if you’re writing a short story or a novel, it should only make an appearance in dialogue.

This is understandable to almost anyone, especially when said with the right intonation:

Why Susan didn’t go with her family?  ❌

Or the slightly worse offender: 

Why Susan not go with her family?  ❌

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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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‘extend’ and ‘extent’

A report I’m editing keeps using the phrase ‘to a certain extend …’. It is slowly driving me up the wall. You need a noun there. To a certain extent. To a large degree. In some measure.

When you say both parties agree with each other to a certain extent, it means they agree up to some limit. There are still things they don’t agree on. If something is true to a certain extent, then not all of it is true.

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