15 Funny Common Phrases Of Indian English You Are Unaware Of

Indian English
“It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly.”      Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve

It’s a 6.5 minute read.

Are You A Foreigner?

If you are a foreigner and if you happen to visit India and your stay is likely to be more than 2 weeks, it is better that you know and understand what I am going to tell now.

“Welcom Turist. We Spik Inglish.”

India Is Said To Be The Second Largest English Speaking Country In The World

There are more users of English in India than in the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand & South Africa combined!

You will be surprised to know that there are 22 official languages spoken in India. Most of the Indians can speak more than 3 to 4 languages apart from English.

Another interesting fact is that English is the official language of the Government.

Strangely, English is the only language through which people from different parts of this vast country are able to communicate and understand each other. In other words, the English language bonds people; thus English has an unique role in India!

On A Lighter Note, India Is A Country Divided By Local Languages And United By A Foreign Language

English-speaking people from other countries will be surprised to learn that Indian English is expressed in a different (funny) way.

What Is The Problem My Friend?

People tend to use English just to show off that they belong to the modern version of their parents. The psychology is that those who speak English are superior to rest of citizens who can’t speak English.

Another problem is that Indians first think in their mother tongue about what they are supposed to tell and then translate into English.

Changing the code quickly between Hindi & English during conversations results in what is known as, ‘Hinglish’.

This brought out a peculiar Indianism.

The Oxford Dictionary of English has more than 900 items addressed as ‘distinctive to Indian English’ and more & more items are getting added periodically.

There are innumerable examples and I can mention a few; which I remembered because they are too common.

What are you waiting for? Take a look.

Indianism

1. No By Two… Or One By Two

Indian English

It’s a funny phrase typically used in India. No other country in the world uses this phrase to my knowledge.

This phrase is typically heard at tea/coffee/soup/juice shops. What does this phrase convey?

One By Two:

A person telling the shop owner, “Give us ‘one by two’ coffee.”

Here the item (cup of coffee) is divided into two roughly equal portions for sharing and invariably the shop owner has to provide an extra cup without charging.

Now the two friends can share the cup of coffee equally between themselves and paying only for one cup.

No By Two:

Here the shop owner (by displaying a notice as shown in the photo above) makes it clear that the sharing of one cup of coffee/juice is not allowed; neither he is willing to give an extra empty cup or glass.

2. Confusion Galore Between Meaning & Spelling

Indianism,Indian English
Never-ending search

A never-ending search for the WAREHOUSE…

3. What Is Your Good Name?

“Majority of people prefer a good name to a bad name, but to me, anyone can call me anything, as long as it is not written on my face.”
Michael Bassey Johnson

As if there are some bad-named creatures and one wishes to know the hidden evil names…

It simply means what is your name?

Don’t you know that parents give a lovely name to their children all the time?

It’s literal translation of Hindi saying “Aapka shubh naam.”

4. Out Of Station

Indianism
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

“My friend, to be on the safe side, I am informing you in advance regarding my inability to attend your function since I am out of station.”

As if the person is waiting outside the railway station indefinitely and is sort of holding a secret.

Why can’t you simply say “I am not here” or “I am in so and so city”?

5. Slowly Slowly

A Husband is talking to his wife about their one year old child… “Slowly slowly he will start talking & walking,” or “I slowly slowly adopted the environment in the factory.”

Just say ‘slowly’ once; that is enough.

6. Passing Out Of The College

Passing out
Image by Josh Argyle from Pixabay

“I passed out of my college,” meaning I completed graduation.

In the UK, USA, Australia or New Zeland ‘Graduation’ or ‘Convocation’ is used. One graduates from the college and not passes out.

‘Passed out’ is used if somebody drank alcohol heavily and is unconscious.

7. Don’t Eat My Brains

Indian English
Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

This one is used when somebody is under stress and is used during times of irritation; just yelling to the other person ‘Stop bugging me!’

8. Expired

Indian english
Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

It’s common for people to refer death this way.

Example – “My dad expired.”

The term ‘expired’ is used for products that come with expiry dates.

Instead one can say ” My dad passed away.”

9. Using ‘No’ in a question

Commonly, every question is followed by the word, ‘No’.

“You are going to Delhi no?”  or  “Are you going to bed no?”

It should be, “You are going to Delhi, aren’t you?”

10. Mother Promise/God Promise

It’s common to hear these sentences… When somebody says…. “Mother promise I didn’t do it” or ‘God promise I did it”… it simply means you don’t have any choice but to believe that person.

One is aware of Mother’s promise or God’s promise but not Mother promise or God Promise.

The word ‘promise’ is mentioned in Oxford Dictionary but not ‘mother promise’/’God Promise.’

‘Mother promise’ is literally the English translation of the Hindi sentence, ‘Ma Kasam.’

It also means, “A commitment of the utmost seriousness. Be warned that you are making a promise that puts your own mother’s health and/or very life at risk. Do not use lightly.” Source -samosapedia.com

Simply, one can use the word ‘Promise’ and that’s it. There is no need to drag your mother or God into the discussions.

11. Would Be

Fiance is introduced to others as ‘My would be’ which is totally confusing.

Instead one can say, “My fiance.”

12. Prepone & Revert Back

Prepone – Bringing the assigned program forward by a day or two. Simply, you can say “Please advance the schedule.”

Revert back – Example: “I will revert back to you shortly.” The correct way is “I will revert to you shortly.”

13. Timepass

Again, this term not found in dictionary.

It is an expression used to kill the time. You can think of it as, “I am passing the time.”

14. Paining

It’s commonly used during conversations.

“My head is paining,” or “My body is paining;” which replaces the word, “Hurting.”

15. It’s Raining Outside 

It makes you wonder, “Does it ever rain inside the house?”

My friend, it is not so, it means, “It’s raining cats & dogs.”

Yes…

Being Indians, we are proud of our English.

Now it is time to be ready for the Laugh riot… Check these two links:

Indian English

Spelling mistakes from India

About the guest author:

Dr. Sridhar is the man behind Philosophy Through Photography.

This deep thinker from India wears many hats; he is a physician, a blogger, a philosopher and an amateur photographer.

Published by philosophy through photography

My philosophy is: Life is hard, but God is good. Try not to confuse the two. Anne F. Beiler

66 thoughts on “15 Funny Common Phrases Of Indian English You Are Unaware Of

  1. 🤔 Hmm. I was aware of the fact that India is a very unique place with a one of a kind culture. What I was unaware of where these funny common phrases of Indian English.

    I am keeping my figures crossed and hoping that your fellow Indians do not take offence in what you said in your guest post.

    Anyway, it was done in an educational and humorous manner.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Renard Moreau.

      Of course, there are millions of other Indians that speak good English. I am only trying to highlight the difficulties faced by some due to the culture of Hinglish, which is an accepted norm.

      I am sure other non-English speaking people in other parts of the world might be facing a similar situation.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. 🙂 Yes, I know without a doubt, that there are millions of Indians that possess a good command of the English language.

        Also, some of the “Indian English” phrases will leave a foreigner dumbfounded.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. RE: #9 – Have you ever been to New York City? I often, in speaking and writing, end a question with “No?” meaning I am expecting an affirmative answer. Possibly a rip-off of the Yiddish “Nu”.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lol. I can’t stop laughing. I was actually having a conversation with my kids sister this morning about how Indians pronounce some English words.
    Well… even in my home country, Ghana, it’s a normal thing to use the phrase “passed out” for someone who just graduated from learning a skill such as culinary arts, fashion, electrical engineering, building construction and the likes but not from a formal institution. You often hear, “tomorrow is his/her passing out or she passed out yesterday”.
    “Would be” is also a common phrase used to refer to your fiancé or fiancee’

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Veronica Logo.
      I appreciate.
      I am surprised that even in Ghana we find similarities.
      I think most of the countries ruled earlier by the British likely to have similar situations unique to their culture.
      Thank you for sharing this information.

      Like

  4. Being an Indian I am aware of these so called Hinglish terms and phrases. Not surprising to me at all. Just to remind English is just a language than any other language. All of us know how English language came to the country and how it became the official language. All credit goes to the British.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Dr.Namrata. Couldn’t agree more.
      True what you said regarding- Credits going to British and we are able to communicate to the rest of the world easily unlike most non English speaking World where it is next to impossible to talk.Only sign language comes to the rescue in those countries.
      I am glad Indians make their best efforts to convey what they wish to say and it’s just question of time, an English speaking foreigner can understand the meaning.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re are welcome and yes I am proud that at least I can properly communicate in a foreign country. Language was just meant communication. As far as I am able to communicate I am fine with it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hahaha… Well, this is amusing. In the Philippines, a similar thing can be noted when it comes to English. We call it “Carabao English” and it can be quite funny!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jomz. I guess every Non-English speaking country, which has the English Language as a medium of communication has a funny blend with the local language. Any examples of Carabao English you can give us? Interesting to know.

      Like

        1. Thank you, my friend. Quite hilarious, from the president to… dad at church, enjoyed reading. It looks like in all the countries where the mother tongue is not English, but people know how to speak English… these funny phrases are inevitable.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Some of these did give me a smile. Number 14 reminded me of my dear friend in the Czech Republic who recently informed me that he will soon have a “borning” of his baby daughter, of course he meant a birth. In a way, I feel as though Hinglish could easily be adopted as a form of self-expression. If people in the UK can go up the apples & pears (Cockney rhyme rhyme for stairs), I don’t see it being a major problem. People expiring might cause a few raised eyebrows though!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Mrs. Wolfie.

      Glad you enjoyed reading the post. I had many smiles with the term ” borning “.

      And I guess one is proud that at least one making an effort to speak some English, irrespective of grammar errors, and hats off to the English Language!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Happy Orbits.
      I fully agree with you .
      You resonate with my feelings.
      If you read my last sentence in the post,Same sentiment I expressed …..”Being Indians, we are proud of our English”
      The majority of the phrases come from Hindi translations.
      Which,we commonly come across in North India,not much in South India.South India has altogether different English phrases,another topic for some other day.
      Some Indians mistake me for this post.
      I just want to show that we are what we are and we are proud to be born here.
      Thank you for stopping by.

      Like

  7. Great post. These local saying are hilarious and I am certain all countries and many regions have something similar. It is like using code, I think. Stay well. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my friend.
      Glad you enjoyed reading it.
      This is our English,we don’t feel bad about it, instead we are happy that we are able to learn, understand, speak and convey.
      You too don’t get offended my friend.
      Every non English speaking country has its own way of speaking English.
      Thank you again for taking time and stopping by .

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I dont know which of these is the funniest! I’m guilty of two more than any of the others (Althought I do admit I’ve done it alllll xD) I use no at the end of my comments and my broke self needs that one-by-two soup desperately.

    Like

    1. Ha ha.Anya Abraham …you are frank. And are we not proud of our English ? And is it not great that with our knowledge of English we are able to communicate with all the English speaking people both in our country & outside ?
      Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yesss, whatever be it as long as we’re getting atleast half the point across, it’s fine I suppose. Really brought a good laugh out of my family with the links you provided too. We loved this personal attack xD

        Liked by 1 person

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