I think, therefore I write. (我思,所以我写。)

Cogito ergo scribo

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


There are two common English mistakes i noticed from the workplace.

(1) "fill in", "fill out", "fill up"

I was reviewing a user creation request form and noticed that there was a note on the form stating, "please fill up the form and submit it to..."

I read the sentence and felt something was not right. I would normally say "fill in the form", or "fill out the form", but not "fill up the form". I told my staff to amend the sentence, and she said this was how they have always said it and did not realise it was wrong.

Actually i've noticed that a lot of people in Asia would say "fill up a form". I am not too sure if it is really wrong, but generally Americans would say "fill out" while the Brits would say "fill in". To me, filling up something normally refers to making something with a capacity full, such as "fill up the gas" , "audiences filling up the auditorium". When we are talking about writing information into empty spaces on paper, it should be "fill in" or "fill out".

Of course, i do not claim to be an English guru, and so i may be wrong.

(2) Comma splice

This is definitely wrong in English grammar. It is a common mistake made by people with English as a second language, especially Chinese. It is probably because in Chinese language, we do use comma between complete sentences. Yet, in English, it is incorrect to use comma to join two independent clauses.

To illustrate my point, here's an email from one of my consultants to my boss (who complimented her for a job well done):

Thank you for this encouraging email.

First and foremost, I would like to say that I am not the lonely ranger in this project, I have my team members helping me, especially xxx & xxx, they are 'the man behind' me, who give me a great support and helpful hands anytime, no matter I called them during weekend, night time or their day-off, they will extend their support to me immediately, without their support, I definitely couldn't get the project go-live or even passed the UAT alone.

Therefore I would like to share this credit with them as well.

Ok, first of all, i know there are other grammar mistakes in the paragraphs. This consultant is weak in her English writing and communication skills, and she knows it too. Just forget about all other grammar mistakes for now and pay attention to the comma splices - notice how ALL sentences were joined by just commas?

Such writing is very common in a lot of emails and documents that my staff write. This may be the extreme case; most of the comma splices they made would be just two clauses, but it gets on my nerves because i feel that this is just the basics of English writing and they should get it right.

Having said that, in casual writing such as blogs, chats or personal emails, we may be guilty of comma splice too. Sometimes we may do so intentionally as a writing style in emphasising certain point. However, in official or formal writing, i do expect them to write in proper English.

Alright, that's all the English lesson for today. ;)


Thanks, teacher pinpin. Frankly, I seem like akways like to use comma too. :p
and I never heard of "fill out" ye!

gee, i thought all this while it should be fill in the form, i remember that's the questions on school examination papers. fill up is kinda like verbally order ... and the second one, boy, it's like 1 paragraph with only 1 sentence. don't know to laugh or what, sure you would have a headache to correct them before you present to your boss or the angmohs. your consultants should be appreciated to have teammate like you instead of being sulky. did you show them the errors, in a lightening way?

english, english, english .. but then the world now is moving towards china liao, so i guess being poor command in english but still understandable is not really worse off if they have good in chinese, better than the bananas anyway. btw, you're so exceptional, being chinese educated and yet english is so good. cheers, have a nice day :).

oh, in case you're in doubt, we're living in the age of internet :)


seems to be fill in > fill out > fill up.


from Collins dictionary, fill up is used as verb to complete an application or form. Hence, it's correct lor.

No comment on your consultant's English. Boy, I wonder how did she pass the interviews! She ought to be thankful that she's not working under me, or else it will be reflected on her appraisal!

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Monday, December 05, 2011 @ 9:12 pm: My theme song 125
Sunday, December 04, 2011 @ 3:50 am: Last Thursday
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 @ 12:17 am: Not sleeping enough
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 12:40 am: One Minute Fly
Friday, November 25, 2011 @ 6:06 am: Trivia of my uneventful days
Sunday, November 20, 2011 @ 2:54 am: Plan changed
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 @ 3:32 am: Trivia of my uneventful days
Saturday, November 12, 2011 @ 4:42 am: 11 11 11
Saturday, November 12, 2011 @ 2:00 am: At KLIA
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 @ 1:01 pm: At Senai Airport