I received an email from a colleague abroad. In the email my colleague made a few requests. Let me read it. “Please consider about how we can use an alternative messaging system instead of email. Meanwhile we will also research about the best options and prices. We’ll plan to discuss about this in next week’s meeting.
What do you think? Well the email is clear enough, but did you notice a three mistakes?
I’m Paul Durant and this is three minute English – a podcast in English, about English for English learners.
I’m not surprised if you didn’t notice those three mistakes. In fact, these are common errors for English learners. In fact, I often hear advanced learners make these mistakes.
Maybe you noticed I said the word “about” a lot! If you noticed this, you have found the problem! In the email the writer asked me to consider about how to use alternative messaging. He also said his group would research about the options so we can discuss about it next week.
The problem is simply that these three words do not require the preposition “about”. I can see why it is confusing. If I say “think” instead of “consider”, I need “about”. We have to say think about. But consider doesn’t mean think… it means “think about”. “About” is included in the word consider. The word think can take many prepositions that slightly change its meaning or usage. For example “think of”, “think over”, or “think out”, in addition to think about. These different prepositions change how we use the verb think, and they might even change the meaning slightly. But we don’t add prepositions to the verb consider, because the preposition “about” is already included. Therefore we can’t say consider on, consider over… etc.
The same is true for the word discuss. We can “talk about” something but the verb “discuss” includes “about” so we don’t need to add it. Finally the verb “research” is the same. We research options, not research about them, because the verb includes “about”.
Be careful with the word research, though. If you use it as a verb you should not include “about” but if you use it as a noun it can take about or other prepositions. For example “I need the research about product sales.” Or “please do some research on price comparisons.” As you can see when “research” is used as a noun it often needs a preposition.
So how could we improve that email? Just take out all those “abouts” Here we go: Please consider how we can use an alternative messaging system instead of email. Meanwhile we will also research the best options and prices. We’ll plan to discuss this in next week’s meeting.
Sounds a lot better. So remember, when using the verbs consider, discuss and research throw away those “abouts!” Your English is going to sound better.
I’m Paul Durant. Remember you can contact me anytime in the comments section or send me an email with any question I can answer. Also remember you can now go to the website and check the transcript for each episode. Thanks for listening to Three Minute English.