The word "the" in Indian English seems to have a different function than in American English, and I'd like to understand it better. The first sentence of this article demonstrates what I mean:

Today in this article I would discuss about the Database Mail which is used to send the Email using SQL Server.

In American English, I'd write:

In today's article I will discuss Database Mail, which is used to send email using SQL Server.

Is that considered wrong or overly concise in Indian English?

What is the use of the additional "the"s in the original? Is this a typical pidgin construct or specific to Indian English? What rule of American English makes this sound awkward to my ears?

  • 1
    It is not the case with every Indian. It must be either mother tongue influence or he is trying emphasize on the topic- database mail; I don't get "send the email", this is funny.
    – Fr0zenFyr
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 21:55
  • If you noticed, many Indians also use -ing everywhere.
    – Fr0zenFyr
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 22:08
  • 2
    It's simply "broken" English, as any Indian would tell you. The same "anomaly" is made by many native Hebrew speakers when speaking English. Russell Peters would be able to teach you how to speak such Indian-styled street English, "some body's gonna get the hurt." Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 23:44
  • youtube.com/watch?v=yVcePxjFujs Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 23:54
  • 1
    You're overthinking it. The doesn't have a Hindi equivalent. It's hard for a new speaker to determine where to put it and sometimes they overdo it. The AmE version wouldn't be wrong in InE because as far as I know, InE doesn't have separate rules for the. Also, please don't consider a single email as representative of InE. If you find it in a reputed Indian publication/periodical, that's another matter.
    – Tushar Raj
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 9:44

3 Answers 3


For most Indian people, English is not their first language so they have a tendency to translate words from their mother tongue on the fly, which leads to some funny examples like "passing out" of college or staying up till 2 AM to "work hardly" on a problem.

The first sentence that you gave can be very easily translated into Hindi (the most widely-spoken Indian language) while the second one cannot be translated as easily.

  • This is incorrect: level best is not Indian, but (originally, non-native-)American. The OED attests its use since 1851, but it is no longer restricted to America.
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 13:20
  • Passing out is certainly used of military academies. But not so much of academic institutions, no.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 13:50
  • In India, it is commonly used for academic institutions.
    – Xaranke
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 13:51
  • Can you give some sources where work hardly is used as depicted in your example? Cause I have never had such a usage encounter.
    – camelbrush
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 20:32

The two topics that I have found more difficult than others are THE USES OF THE and THE USES OF TENSES. Once, so many years ago, I tested people including Professors of English whom I know personally with the aim of knowing whether they are good at using THE correctly. Unfortunately, none of them passed the test. The English that we, Indians, use is different in several aspects from British and American English. We pronounce a large number of English words incorrectly, we make grammar and usage mistakes, we use words that are understood only by Indians. For example, instead of the American RESUME (and the British CURRICULUM VITAE), etc. Indians use BIODATA widely. Indians use LAKH to mean "one hundred thousand", and CRORE to mean "ten million". Indians usually do not mind the omission or insertion of THE in a sentence.


I disagree with @Xitij, both the sentences have the same meanings when (easily) translated in Hindi, with minor sentence structural difference.

Pinal Dave, the author of the OP's quoted article, is a USC graduate, (which means he cleared his GRE, which means he definitely understands the use of 'the' ). But, in-spite of knowing the correct usage, I feel his usage is influenced from the language of his ethnic group as pointed out by @Fr0zenFyr. And that would also be the ans to the OP.

And as in the wiki entry about First language being the language(s) a person starts learning from the very beginning, in India students learn it from the very first day they go to school (not counting the English they learn at home), along Hindi. Hence for most Indians Hindi and English are both their first languages. What you ( Xitij) are suggesting would be valid, if you differentiate word 'Mother Tongue' as one's ethnic group's language. This newspaper article tells us that India has the second largest English speaking population in the world (mostly due to the high population in itself).

enter image description here And I did not highlight the minor structural difference at the end of the sentence.

  • Are you sure that the two sentences written in Devanagari script are grammatically correct? In particular, the verb at the end seems to need a plural subject, and if the verb remains unchanged, the translation into English would result in something like "In today's article, we will discuss..." not "In today's article, I will discuss..." Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 21:10
  • The google translator does a literal translation. I am trying to highlight the usage of 'the' as interpreted in Hindi with google translator. Which is also the OPs main concern
    – camelbrush
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 22:51

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