Feeling frustrated? Depends who’s saying it

Posted on Sun 26 Jun 2011 @ 12.58am UTC


In its long-running litany of bad reporting skilfulness (BrE) / skillfulness (AmE) and bad English, this came only minutes ago from a news item about some people being evicted by our government by reason of their living in illegally (i.e. unlawfully) built building structures.

Reporter’s voice-over:

“They feel frustrated that…”

(The Late News, TVB Pearl, 12.31am, Sun 26 June)

Excuse me, just wondering how the hell would you know that?

No, you idiot! You cannot report it that way. This is an outstandingly bad example of deciding the feelings of others on the strength of your own perception or inclinations.

This is how you should say it:

Wrong: “They feel frustrated…”

Right: “They say they feel a sense of frustration…”

Why: You don’t know how they feel until they tell you — and unless they say so.


© Learn English or Starve, 2011.

Posted in: Colour Section