Grandma's Tales

September 28, 2006

Grammar 2 – Up, up and away!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Geeta Padmanabhan @ 10:18 pm

Amit Agarwal, I hear, gets paid for spotting errors. I am too, with two major differences.  My area of operation is different. What I get as fee is probably what Amit spends on making calls on a day.

Correcting English papers (from grade II to PhD) for more than a quarter century has not been without its  compensation. Some of those papers were written in a language that could only be called “creative”. Some were simply brilliant. What I have got from reading them is this: I have become skilled in finding mistakes (a tendency I need to keep in check as a mother-in-law).

I am “looking” for errors only in students’ papers.  The rest of the time, they seem to stare at me. Should I be picking on a couple of innocent mistakes while what is being said is original and relevant? That is the whole point. Sometimes errors mess up what the author means. As an author, you want to reach your thoughts to your readers, right?

Take the expression “double up” that is doing the rounds now.  As I said in Grammar 1,   someone comes up with an expression and others pick it up effortlessly. We are a trusting lot. We think, “Hey, that’s what I read in the paper yesterday, and that’s what I understood it to mean”, and the next time we write, hey presto, the phrase has found its way into our sentence.

Now, “double up” means “to bend suddenly, as in pain or laughter”. He doubled up in pain and fell to the ground.  So, what is it doing in this sentence? Politicians in the state double up as garba organisers. (TOI, 24 September). The sentence should be written without the pesky, two-lettered upstart “up”. Politicians in the state double up as garba organisers. Politicians double, triple and quadruple, have as many avatars as there are garba nights, but one rarely sees them “doubling up” in pain or shame. Of course, they might be doubling up in laughter, but that is in private.

“To double” means, among other things, “to be two things at the same time”. So a knife doubles as a butter spreader. You are a programmer who doubles as a stock broker; she is a teacher who doubles as a tourist guide. He is a mobile phone user who doubles as a social moron… you get the drift.

We make a similar mistake with “cope”. For some reason, everyone now adds the u-word to it. “I have learnt to cope up”, people sigh in speech and writing.  “Cope” means “to manage, sometimes with success”. Most of you are coping with a full-time job and raising hyper-active kids, aren’t you?

Learn to cope with this fact: “cope up” simply does not exist. Unless we are going in for some form of Indlish.


  1. very interesting…
    i always thought ‘tell me’ was right..i use it a lot..
    i’m glad it’s grammaticaly correct..

    Comment by sudha menon — September 30, 2006 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks Sudha. Glad to be of help.

    Comment by Geeta — September 30, 2006 @ 9:30 pm | Reply

  3. Respected Maam,
    I am a student of Sriram Law academy. I read ur blog on Autos. Very much true. I feel that
    auto-fellows look at the trip as a great burden rather than their job. They complain… Petrol price,Distance,Traffic, all crap reasons to get the maximum out of a customer. But, with the Call-Taxi business booming in Chennai and the Share-Autos having pulled down the business for Auto-fellows,I guess the number of Autos need to reduce in the city (for traffic and income reasons).I look forward to your next blog… Keep Writing!!!

    Comment by C.Anantha Krishnan — October 8, 2006 @ 7:21 pm | Reply

  4. Hi Ananth,
    Thanks. I don’t see the number of autos going down in a hurry. We’ll have to work towards disciplining them.Sigh!

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — October 8, 2006 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

  5. Its really true about the auto fellows whose fares attain devilish proportions depending upon the time of the day. Here’s an incident :
    Avinash,Rajaram and I, the three of us were waiting for the bus while returning from the Challenger Trophy match recently and there seemed to be no sign of a bus. An auto pulled up and we thought of asking him to drop us at Gandhi Statue, Marina from the Bharathi Statue and it was quite a normal distance for which he would have charged around Rs.30 in the daytime but Alas! he asked us for Rs.60 and we offered him our courtesies and wished him BYE!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Srinivasan — October 9, 2006 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

  6. Thanks for the info, Srinivasan. I didn’t know the guys doubled their fares at night. Why? Are they scared of driving after dark? Great, you stood your ground.

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — October 9, 2006 @ 10:27 pm | Reply

  7. New Kids Entertainment Act Strikes A Chord With Adults Little Nashville offers a unique twist by performing today\’s \”hot country\” for children

    Comment by Wes — January 11, 2007 @ 4:09 am | Reply

  8. Very interesting site… I wish I could build one like yours!nancy

    Comment by Communicate Insurance — January 11, 2007 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  9. Hi Wes,
    Thanks for stopping by. And wish I were there to watch!

    Hi Nancy,
    So glad you find it interesting! To think I was forced to start this during a blogcamp I attended in my city! Do drop by when you can!

    Comment by Geeta Padmanabhan — January 11, 2007 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

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