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Let’s discuss about what to order for

We all know how confused we Indians can be when it comes to the use of prepositions while writing or speaking English. For most Indians, ‘on’ and ‘above’ could be mutually replaceable prepositions and so could be ‘below’ and ‘under’.

It is no wonder then that we end up using the wrong one every now and then, use none when one is needed or then use one when none is actually needed. The prepositions, that we are going to know more about this month, fall under this last category – using one when none is actually needed.

Quite a few would raise their hands if I were to ask how many of us have heard or said something like, “We will meet and discuss about this in person” or “I have ordered for a pizza.” A large number of us would either not find anything fundamentally wrong with these sentences or then actually be convinced that this is how it is said.

The reality, however, is different. Neither does ‘discuss’ need the preposition ‘about’, nor does ‘order’ need the preposition ‘for’. ‘Discuss’ and ‘order’ are transitive verbs. Transitive verbs are action verbs with a direct object. They do not need prepositions.

For example,

Ronaldinho kicked (transitive verb) the ball (direct object).

There is no need for a preposition here and hence we do not say, “Ronaldinho kicked to the ball.”

The urge to use ‘about’ after ‘discuss’ probably comes from the fact that ‘about’ is used after similar action verbs such as ‘talk’, ‘debate’ or ‘have a conversation’. But these are intransitive verbs.

So the correct way to speak is:

“We will meet and then discuss this in person.”

or

“I have ordered a pizza.”

I am going to leave you with a seemingly-confusing, fun sentence I came across:

“Keller Fay finds that people discuss about a dozen brands each day.”

Although here it does seem like the preposition ‘about’ has been used after the verb ‘discuss’, in reality, that is only because in this case ‘about’ has not been used as a preposition, but as an adverb that means ‘approximately.’ You will get the meaning if you read the sentence this way:

“On average, Keller Fay finds that people discuss (about or approximately a dozen) brands each day.”

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Sandeep Nulkar Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, BITS Private Limited Sandeep Nulkar heads one of India’s largest translation and localisation companies. He is a linguist by passion, businessman by choice and author by circumstances. Over the past decade, he has been working closely with the corporate world and with students and the academia to bring credibility and recognition to the Indian translator within and outside India.