Monday, 10 October 2016

Unchartered waters

Before the era of aviation, explorers and traders travelled the world by sea. They were aided by charts -- in other words, maps. Hence, regions for which charts were not available were uncharted waters. Uncharted waters and uncharted territory are used metaphorically these days to refer to new, unprecedented situations.

However, many people mistakenly write unchartered instead. Unchartered means not having a charter or written constitution. Take a look at the examples below:

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Interesting tweets - 2

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Rest assured

According to Cambridge Dictionary, rest assured means to be certain that something will happen and gives this example: You can rest assured that you're going to get a good deal.

Quite often, however, I have seen it used with a be before it, like in the following examples:

  • It may sound quite amazing and perhaps unbelievable, but you can be rest assured that what you're about to read is completely true.
  • By choosing us you can be rest assured that your facility, project...
  • can be rest assured you have full rights to use all images...

This is not correct.

The rest in rest assured is a verb which means to relax, to not worry. You'll understand the expression better if you imagine a comma after rest. So you could paraphrase the first example as
...but you can rest, assured in the knowledge that what you're about to read is completely true. 
 Now you can easily see why be rest assured doesn't make sense. 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Send your form to the below address

The prepositions below and above are often used as adjectives, like in the following examples:
  • If you would prefer to make a cash or check donation, please send your gift to the below address. 
  • Please send your documents to the below address
  • From the below information, calculate the final balance to be carried forward
  • Please read the below details to know more. 
It is debatable whether this usage is grammatically correct or not, but it certainly sounds more natural with below placed after the noun. 

For instance, ... please send your gift to the address mentioned (or written / shown / stated / given) below. Or simply ... to the address below.

Alternatively, you can replace it with following, as in the following examples:

  • Please send your documents to the following address.
  • Please read the following details to know more. 
The same applies to the preposition above. And an alternative could be preceding, as in Please send your documents to the preceding address

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Please stand clear off the doors

The Delhi Metro is a very popular means of public transport in Delhi and the coaches are often crowded. Recorded messages are frequently played on the public address system inside the trains urging passengers to maintain cleanliness and to please stand clear off the doors.

 There's a small mistake there. The correct instruction should be: please stand clear of the doors.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The fact that vs The possibility that

The fact that is a common expression that we use when we talk about, quite obviously, facts, as in Copernicus first established the fact that the earth revolves round the sun. 

However, sometimes people erroneously use it when they make non-factual statements. Consider the following examples:

Was Woodrow Wilson oblivious of the fact that German nationalism might rise and create dire consequences...

How can I come to terms with the fact that I might never be in a romantic relationship?

The fact that if the price of milk, butter or cab rides increases, people might switch to soy milk, margarine, or the bus...

Now I am 23 and it is difficult to let go of the fact that maybe I'm wasting my potential as a good athlete.  

All these statements express possibilities or probabilities, as is apparent by the use of might and maybe; a fact is something about which there is no doubt. So, in these cases it would have been more accurate to say the possibility that or the probability that instead of the fact that.