How to know/decide if it is wrong English or slang or colloquial?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Olympian

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Hindi
Home Country
India
Current Location
India
Hello,

I read the following sentence in the news story about a disabled Carnical ship drifting due to an engine fire.

Passengers also are getting sick and throwing up, he said, adding that his wife told him: "The whole boat stinks extremely bad."

It is quite common in AmE to use expressions such as the above, or saying "smells real bad" instead of "smells really bad".

How to know if a particular expression/sentence is just wrong, or if it is acceptable?

Thank you


 

SoothingDave

VIP Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2009
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
What do you think is wrong with saying something "stinks extremely bad?"
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
For info, in BrE, it would be correct to say either "It smells really bad" or "It stinks really badly" but not a combination of the two. The same might not be true for AmE.

However, in the example you gave, the report was repeating exactly what the person actually said. When quoting people's words, it should be done so verbatim, regardless of whether the writer of the report believes that what the person said was grammatical or not.
 

SoothingDave

VIP Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2009
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
You don't hear "badly" a lot in AmE. Whether it's "correct" or not, people usually use "bad" in these types of sentences.
 

Olympian

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Hindi
Home Country
India
Current Location
India
What do you think is wrong with saying something "stinks extremely bad?"

SoothingDave, sorry, I don't know. I am just confused.

Perhaps, I chose a wrong expression (which, it turns out, may be correct) for my question. There are several words and expressions commonly used in English in India, and which some books point out to be 'wrong', whereas, some people seem to think they are acceptable because they are now a part of Indian English. The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) and some American dictionaries seem to add new words periodically. But, as far as I know, there is no dictionary of Indian English. Yet, people use words found in English dictionaries (Br/AmE) to mean things that those dictionaries don't list. (For example, the word 'crib' is used to mean 'to complain'. A common sentence would be - 'Why are you cribbing?'). Everyone seems to understand this. Typically, books point out that 'prepone' is not the opposite of 'postpone', but people continue to use it ('prepone') regularly. Or 'to take a class' means 'to teach a class' (or in some cases, it also means - to scold/lecture at length; example sentence - When he found out what I did, he took my class), not 'to be a student of/in a class'. So, I am trying to understand how (by what process)/when is it considered wrong English, and when it is just slang/colloquial?

Thank you
 
Last edited:

Olympian

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Hindi
Home Country
India
Current Location
India
For info, in BrE, it would be correct to say either "It smells really bad" or "It stinks really badly" but not a combination of the two. The same might not be true for AmE.

However, in the example you gave, the report was repeating exactly what the person actually said. When quoting people's words, it should be done so verbatim, regardless of whether the writer of the report believes that what the person said was grammatical or not.

@emsr2d2, thank you for the examples. Did you mean to say "It smells really bad" or "It stinks"? Since 'stinks' = 'smell really bad(ly)'. I am a bit confused, sorry.

I understand what you wrote about the report having to quote a person verbatim. My difficulty is that either I don't understand what people say (for example, my post about 'Inbox me') or I have a doubt about whether what they are saying (or what is written) is correct or not. So, I ask my questions here. I am thankful for this forum and for the kindness of the native speakers and senior members who clarify things for people like me.
 

SoothingDave

VIP Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2009
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
SoothingDave, sorry, I don't know. I am just confused.

Perhaps, I chose a wrong expression (which, it turns out, may be correct) for my question. There are several words and expressions commonly used in English in India, and which some books point out to be 'wrong', whereas, some people seem to think they are acceptable because they are now a part of Indian English. The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) and some American dictionaries seem to add new words periodically. But, as far as I know, there is no dictionary of Indian English. Yet, people use words found in English dictionaries (Br/AmE) to mean things that those dictionaries don't list. (For example, the word 'crib' is used to mean 'to complain'. A common sentence would be - 'Why are you cribbing?'). Everyone seems to understand this. Typically, books point out that 'prepone' is not the opposite of 'postpone', but people continue to use it ('prepone') regularly. Or 'to take a class' means 'to teach a class' (or in some cases, it also means - to scold/lecture at length; example sentence - When he found out what I did, he took my class), not 'to be a student of/in a class'. So, I am trying to understand how (by what process)/when is it considered wrong English, and when it is just slang/colloquial?

Thank you

I don't think there is anything Indian about saying something stinks bad.

It's perfectly acceptable American English.
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
@emsr2d2, thank you for the examples. Did you mean to say "It smells really bad" or "It stinks"? Since 'stinks' = 'smell really bad(ly)'. I am a bit confused, sorry.

I meant exactly what I said. In BrE, we would say "It smells really bad" or "It stinks really badly". We would not say "It stinks really bad". However, in preference to "It stinks really badly" we would probably just say "It stinks" because that makes it clear that it is a a very unpleasant smell, worse than just "it smells bad".
 

BobK

Harmless drudge
Staff member
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
.... But, as far as I know, there is no dictionary of Indian English. Yet, people use words found in English dictionaries (Br/AmE) to mean things that those dictionaries don't list. ...
:-?
Plenty of such books have been produced since Hobson-Jobson.... in 1888. It is still in print in several editions.

b
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
With stink, I would be more likely to modify with an adverb- it really stinks. It stinks bad sounds OK to me, but it stinks extremely bad less so, though people may well use it when faced with such conditions. (BrE speaker)
 

BobK

Harmless drudge
Staff member
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
I prefer 'It stinks'; a stink is already bad, so I don't like 'It stinks bad'. But, given that a stink is already bad, it strikes me as OK to specify the degree of badness - so, in the right context, I'd find 'It stinks - real bad' quite acceotable.

b
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
Certainly better than extremely bad IMO.
 

probus

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
I don't think there is anything Indian about saying something stinks bad.

Agreed. But when it comes to stinking bad, India is a perennial superbowl contender. Nevertheless I love the place ;-)
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
There are some Olympian streets in my area (Metro Manila). ;-)
 

Olympian

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Hindi
Home Country
India
Current Location
India
@BobK, thank you. I did not know that. :up:
 

Olympian

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Hindi
Home Country
India
Current Location
India
Agreed. But when it comes to stinking bad, India is a perennial superbowl contender. Nevertheless I love the place ;-)

You are "bad!". ;-) (I mean it in the American sense, of course!)
 

probus

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 7, 2011
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
Best praise I've ever received on this site :-D Thank you Olympian!
 

Raymott

VIP Member
Joined
Jun 29, 2008
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
English
Home Country
Australia
Current Location
Australia
Also note that "How to know if a particular expression/sentence is just wrong, or if it is acceptable?" is not a valid sentence.
There are no proper English sentences that go "How to read?", "When to eat lunch?", "Where to go to school?" etc.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top