I am working with / instructing a new intern who is frequently using the incorrect plural of a technical term, for example, ‘Gooses’ instead of ‘Geese’.

I’m fine giving him technical instruction however not sure how to approach this issue in a positive way.

He will often use this during a technical discussion and I feel it will derail the conversation and idea flow if I explicitly correct him at that point. It also feels somewhat petty to do so, his meaning was clearly conveyed.

I’ve tried using the correct terms in front of him or repeating back what he’s said but that has not had any effect. I’ve been working with him for just under a week so far.

We are both native English speakers, however I'm a British import into the USA so there are some regional differences in terminology and spelling.

My goal is to have him sound as professional and knowledgeable as possible - inside the company and when speaking with clients. I find the incorrect usage jarring, so I imagine others will to.

How can I correct this in a positive way (I.e without making him feel stupid or self conscious when he speaks)?

  • 1
    Related, on Academia. Even though it's the other way around (intern -> mentor), some good advice there than may help.
    – OldPadawan
    Jun 26, 2019 at 6:51

1 Answer 1


Although not identical, I've had resources in India who have had an... interesting grasp of English.

I've found the best way to correct them was to do it in private and explain to them what I think they meant, what they actually would up saying, and what the correct term would be. The challenge was to not nitpick but to help with the more embarrassing errors.

I also needed to approach this from the perspective of "I want you to be taken seriously. Really obvious errors in English can have you viewed as someone who isn't capable of speaking English well, let alone handling complex technical issues. I want our users to have a positive perception of you and your skill set." That helped set the table as I was trying to help them grow and not just nag them about their English.

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