Singlish or English 3

Singlish is a form of English but as Singapore is multicultural and multilingual, a lot of words from Chinese and Malay are used. They are not usually suitable for business use and as many of these words are slang you should be careful how and with who you use them!

For more examples check out this blog post by Mothership


Singlish or English 2

There are lots of words and expressions used differently in Singlish and English. Its important to understand both and use the right one for the right situation to avoid confusion.

Here are a few more that wouldn’t fit on the graphic.

help so do sth/do for someone

Singlish: Could you help me buy this?

English: Could you buy this for me?

To many Singaporeans asking someone to “help” sounds softer but in English when we ask someone to help us to do something, it means that we want to do it together. A compromise that will let you sound polite to Singaporeans, but also use accurate English is to ask,

Could you help me by buying this for me?

off the lights/switch off the lights

Singlish: Could you off the lights?

English: Could you turn off the lights?

There are a number of expressions like this used in Singapore. The preposition part of the verb is used as the verb itself. Other examples are ‘on the tv’ and ‘off the computer’ Here both speakers of Singlish and English will understand the Standard English expression so we recommend you just ask people to turn or switch on/off your devices.


Singlish: The Landlord will forfeit the deposit if the Tenant damages the Premises.

English: The Tenant will forfeit the deposit if the Tenant damages the Premises.

This is a tricky one. Dig out your Tenancy Agreement and see if you can find the term. Forfeit means ‘lose as a penalty’ and lawyers in Singapore will generally use it correctly however it is commonly used among Singapore real estate agents to mean ‘keep as a penalty’. To be sure your contracts are accurate and that everybody understands, you could add additional words to clarify. (This is not legal advice just an English suggestion!)

The Tenant will forfeit the deposit to the Landlord if the Tenant damages the Premises.

get on/get off/get down/get in/get out of

Singlish: Get off the taxi.

English: Get out of the taxi.

Use ‘get on/off’ for bikes, scooters, horses, buses, trains, boats and planes. Use ‘get in/get out of’ for cars and taxis. ‘Get down’ is used from high places e.g. John, get down from that tree! Generally everyone will understand you if you use the standard English expressions.


Singlish: My phone is spoilt.

English: My phone is broken.

In English spoil does refer to damage but it is not usually used for machines. In English we use spoil for, for example, food that has gone off, children that have been given too much by their parents, and for events that haven’t gone well. Generally everyone will understand you if you use the standard English expressions.

net (or nett)/gross

Singlish: The nett price is $400.

English: The gross price is $400.

In both Singlish and English your gross income is your salary before tax and deductions. The nett income is the amount you take home. The confusion occurs when shopping. In standard English the nett price is the base price before sales tax is added and the gross price is the final price you pay at the register. In Singapore the term ‘nett price’ usually refers to the final price you pay at the register after tax. There are no easy solutions to this - make sure you double-check and that everyone understands the terms you are using.

What is the final price that I need to pay?

Is tax included?

Are there any other charges?


Singlish or English 1

Living in Singapore, both Singlish and English are important - you might need Singlish in the market but standard English at work.

Over the next few days we will look the following :

1) how some standard English words have different meanings and usage in Singlish

2) some non-English words and expressions that are used in Singlish

3) a few of the grammar differences

To elaborate on the standard English meaning of the verbs in the image below:

  • drop - to let go of something and cause it to fall

  • fall - something that falls of its own accord

    (Drop can be used for both in Singlish.)

  • stay - used for short-term or temporary accommodation (e.g. vacations)

  • live - used for the main residence 0

    (Stay can be used for both in Singlish.)

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Adjective Week! Day 7

Congratulations! You gave made it through adjective week!

For our final post we have included some advanced adjectives to boost your vocabulary!

Challenge: Use at least one of these adjectives in your English class next week!

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Adjective Week! Day 6

To help you remember which is which, a good rule is that -ing adjectives often describe the cause or reason and that -ed adjectives describe the reaction or result.

Here are a few examples:

The book was interesting. The reader was interested.

The museum was fascinating. The visitor was fascinated.

Her language was disgusting. Her parole officer was disgusted.

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Adjective Week! Day 5


Comparative adjectives are used to compare two things.

My pen is bigger than yours.

The flower on the right is more beautiful than the one on the left.

Superlative adjectives are used to compare one thing with two or more others.

McRitchie is the greenest place in Singapore.

Ty Jia is the best school in Singapore.


Most one- and all two-syllable adjectives with a ‘y’ ending

Omit the y. Add -ier/iest.   

  • dry/drier/driest

  • ugly/uglier/uglist

One-syllable adjectives ending with silent ‘e’.

 Add -r/st 

  • safe/safer/safest

  • wise/wiser/wisest

Most one-syllable adjectives  ending with CVC (consonant/vowel/consonant)

Double the end consonant. Add -er/est.

  • thin/thinner/thinnest

  • hot/hotter/hottest

Other one-syllable adjectives

Add -er/est.

  • tough/tougher/toughest

  • high/higher/highest

  • old/older/oldest

Two-syllable adjectives 

Some add -er/est, some take more/most, others take either.

  • clever/cleverer/cleverest

  • perfect/more perfect/most perfect

  • subtle /subtler/subtlest or subtle/more subtle/most subtle

Three-or-more-syllable adjectives

Add more/most

  • important/more important/most important  

  • expensive/more expensive/most expensive

Irregular forms

Sorry, you just have to remember these ones!

  • good/better/best

  • bad/worse/worst

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Adjective Week! Day 4

Extreme adjectives will make your speech and writing more interesting. Compare:

I was absolutely astounded at his utterly vile temper.

I was very surprised at his very bad temper.

Extreme adjectives already include the meaning of ‘very’.

very good -> fantastic

very hot -> boiling

If you want to make them even stronger, use the intensifiers such as absolutely, completely, totally, utterly.

These intensifiers are known as ‘Adverbs of Degree’. Follow the blog for a post on these in the future. Alternatively you could ask your teacher or sign up for a free trial lesson at Ty-Jia!

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Adjective Week! Day 3

What is the difference between English German students and German English students?

Well, if you look at the list below, you will see that Origin comes before Qualifier. That means that:

  • the first adjective refers to where the students come from


  • the second adjective refers to the type of students they are.

English German students - Students who come from England and study the German language

German English students - Students who come from Germany and study the English language

The order of adjectives is a bit tricky. Native speakers do it instinctively but if you are not sure, this list should help.

  1. Determiner - articles (a, an, the), possessives (my, your, his, her, its, our, their), numbers (two, a few, some), demonstratives (this, that, those, these)

  2. Opinion - beautiful, hot, old

  3. Size - big, enormous

  4. Shape - round, square

  5. Age - old, young

  6. Color - red, blue

  7. Origin - German, Japanese

  8. Material - wooden, metal, leather

  9. Qualifier - (Tells you the type of noun) evening dress, English student, 2-storey flat

Still unsure? Ask your teacher or click here for a free trial lesson at Ty-Jia.

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Finding people

Here is something we discussed in class today.

Do you know the difference?

The first one means, “What do you think of me?”

The second one is a bit trickier. It might mean, “What did you think of me?” or “Where did you hear/learn about me?” or even “How did you locate me?”



Don't know where to start in a class discussion? Need clarification at a business meeting? Trouble getting a word in at a dinner party? Check out these expressions to use in discussions.

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