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Mar 20, 2018

Different ways you can describe a person as "thin"  without making them feel bad

Different ways you can describe a person as "thin" without making them feel bad

The popular saying, words are very powerful, is a fact that is inarguable. Words can kill and make alive; they can control the emotions of people. Therefore, no matter the circumstance(s), you should always use the right word on people, especially when describing them. The truth is that a dullard in class wouldn't want to be described as such in the presence of other students. Similarly, the word, thin, is one of the descriptions that people who are "thin" don't like to hear. Perhaps the sound of the word makes them thinner. LOL! It is just like the word "fat", which denotes additional weight so not many people like to be described as fat. So, how would you describe someone who is "thin" without hurting their feelings if you were asked to do so? Just be focused as we sail.

Different ways you can describe a person as "thin"  without making them feel bad

They are positive in the sense that the addressee exhibits a feeling of joy when either of these synonyms of "thin" is used to describe him/her. Some of these words are: willowy, slender, slim, lean etc.
1. Tammy is willowy. This means that Tammy is tall, thin and graceful.

2. Tammy is slender. A slender person is attractively thin and graceful.

3. Tammy is lean. When you describe someone as lean, you mean that they are thin but look strong and healthy.

4. My younger brother is tall and slim. A slim person has an attractively thin and well-shaped body.

From the examples given above, it is obvious that these words (willowy, slender, lean and slim) are positive in meaning as they express admiration and praise.

However, the ones listed below are more negative in meaning and shouldn't be used to describe someone who is "thin" if you don't want them to frown at you:

1. Skinny
A skinny person is extremely thin and unattractive.
The boy is quite skinny.

2. Bony
Someone who is bony is very thin and has very little flesh.
The girl has a bony face.

3. Scrawny
If you describe a person as scrawny, you mean that they look unattractive because they are excessively thin.

4. Gaunt
If someone looks gaunt, they look very thin, usually because they have been ill or worried.

5. Underweight
If someone is underweight, it means that they are too thin, and therefore not healthy.

6. Emaciated
A person that is emaciated is extremely thin because of illness or lack of food.

7. Anorexic
If someone is anorexic, they are suffering from anorexia and so are very thin.

Always choose your words correctly when describing people irrespective of who they are. This will not only bring about a peaceful coexistence between you and them but will also portray you as one who is skilled in the language.

Mar 11, 2018

As regards childbirth, is it correct or wrong to say "She delivered a baby boy"? Find out!

As regards childbirth, is it correct or wrong to say "She delivered a baby boy"? Find out!

Most persons and some grammar pamphlets have argued that it is wrong to say "She delivered a baby boy" as regards childbirth. According to them, the statement has nothing to do with childbirth as it simply means "She delivered or rescued a baby boy from trouble or any form of attack". As a result, we are taught or advised to say "She was delivered of a baby boy" instead of "She delivered a baby boy".
As regards childbirth, is it correct or wrong to say "The woman delivered a baby boy"? Find out!
Inarguably, the statement, She delivered a baby boy, is ambiguous because of the presence of the polysemous word, "delivered". It can either mean "she gave birth to a baby boy" or "she delivered or rescued a baby boy from any form of attack". However, this doesn't mean that it is wrong to say "She delivered a baby boy" as regards childbirth. In a case such as this, the context should be used to determine the actual meaning of the statement. Context is very vital in determining the meaning of words and sentences.

With respect to childbirth, both statements are very correct but have different meanings. When you say "She delivered a baby boy", it simply means that the woman gave birth to a baby boy. But when you say "She was delivered of a baby boy", it means that the woman gave birth to a baby boy with the help of others, often doctors or midwives. There is a form of assistance once the phrase, was delivered of, is used.

Before making use of any correction in a grammar textbook, always visit the dictionary for confirmation. The dictionary is the final arbiter when it comes to word usage and error correction. Below are screenshots from some online dictionaries as regards the subject matter.
American Heritage Dictionary
Oxford Dictionary

English Dictionary

Mar 5, 2018

WORD STRESS: 10 easy ways to identify the stressed syllable in a word

WORD STRESS: 10 easy ways to identify the stressed syllable in a word

Word stress/Stress pattern is one of the important topics in the learning and teaching of English as a second language (henceforth ESL). However, most teachers of ESL skip or shy away from this topic because of their incompetence; thus, leaving their students helpless in an external exam. In Nigeria, with essay writing occupying the front seat as regards "the reasons why students fail English in WAEC, NECO or NABTEB", one can inarguably place word stress/stress pattern, which comes as paper 3 (Test of Oral) in WAEC examination, as the second reason why students fail English in WAEC, NECO or NABTEB. Students have no option(s) other than resorting to error and trial method when it comes to answering questions on word stress because they were neither taught nor properly taught. Therefore, this article is written to expose students and teachers of English to the rudiments of word stress in order to enable them easily identify the stressed syllable of a word.
WORD STRESS: 10 easy ways to identify the stressed syllable of a word
Stress is the degree of force applied when pronouncing the syllable(s) of a word. The stressed syllable is the syllable on which the speaker uses more muscular energy and breath effort when pronouncing a word. A syllable is a unit of pronunciation that has one vowel sound. A word might have one syllable (like “come or “go”), two syllables (like "doc-tor" or "pre-sent"), three syllables ("dis-a-gree" or "com-pa-ny") and more (like "pan-de-mo-nium" or "per-so-ni-fi-ca-tion"). A word with one syllable is called a monosyllable; a word with two syllables is called a bisyllable, and a word with more than two syllables is called a polysyllable. Whatever the word, pay attention to the vowels because one of them will be where you find the stress of a word.

It is also important to note that syllables are different from letters. For example, “come” has four letters but one syllable. On the other hand, "Sunday" has six letters but two syllables.

There are different types of stress. Before you proceed, make sure you read it up using the links below. It will aid your understanding of this article.

The meaning and types of stress. Episode 1

The meaning and types of stress. Episode 2

Features of a stressed syllable
Stressed syllables possess similar feature which enables us to identify them. According to Roach (2004), "...all stressed syllables have one characteristic in common, and this is prominence." Four main factors make a stressed syllable prominent:

1. Loudness
Loudness is an important factor in determining the stressed syllable of a word. When pronouncing a word, the syllable that is louder than the others is heard as stressed. In other words, for hearers and listeners, stressed syllables are perceived as louder than unstressed syllables.

2. Length
A stressed syllable is usually longer than the other syllables in a word. Roach (2004) asserted that "If one of the syllables in a word is made longer than the others, there is quite a strong tendency for that syllable to be heard as stressed"(p. 94).

As regards this, Umera-Okeke (2015, p. 125) asserted that "Syllables containing long vowels are viewed as more prominent than those with short vowels."

3. Pitch
Pitch is the extent of vibration of the vocal cords when producing the syllables of a word. In a word, a syllable is heard as stressed if it is said with a high pitch unlike the other syllables. Umera-Okeke (2015) opined that "when there is a pitch change on a syllable, that syllable is seen as being more prominent" (pp. 125 - 126). For example, in the word "Pandemonium", the primary stress is on the third syllable, "mo", since there is a pitch change on that syllable.

4. Quality
The quality of a sound in a syllable determines whether or not that syllable is stressed. That is to say that "a syllable of a sound will tend to be prominent if it contains a vowel that is different in quality from the neighbouring vowels" (Roach, 2004, p. 94). Vowels are very important in determining the stressed syllable of a word. Therefore, one needs to pay attention to the type of vowel a syllable contains. Within vowels, open vowels are more prominent; thus, a syllable containing an open vowel is most likely to be stressed.

When next you pronounce a word, take note of these aforementioned features. It is also important to state that of all these factors, loudness and length are more important in determining the stressed syllable of an English word.

Having said that, let's look at some rules that will enable you identify the stressed syllable of word.

1. Monosyllabic words, such as comegosit etc., are usually stressed since they can't be divided into different syllables.

2. Numbers that end in "ty" are stressed on the first syllable while numbers that end in "teen" have their stress on the second syllable. For example, "sixty" has its stress on first syllable (SIXty) while "sixteen" has its stress on the second syllable (sixTEEN).

3. Most bisyllabic nouns and adjectives are usually stressed on the first syllable.
Examples: BAS-tard, PRE-tty, CLE-ver, DOC-tor, STU-dent etc.

However, there is an exception to this rule, and you have to learn these words by heart: ho-TEL,  ex-TREME, con-CISE etc.

4. Bisyllabic verbs and prepositions are usually stressed on the second syllable. Examples: be-LOW, a-BOUT, a-BOVE, be-TWEEN, a-SIDE, pre-SENT, re-PLY, ex-PORT etc.

5. Some words in English language function as both nouns and verbs. When such words function as noun, the stress is usually on the first syllable, and as verbs, the stress is usually on the second syllable.
i. PRE-sent (a gift) vs. pre-SENT (to give something formally to someone).

ii. RE-fuse (garbage) vs. re-FUSE (to decline).

iii. SU-spect (someone who the police believe may have committed a crime) vs. su-SPECT (to believe that something is true, especially something bad).

However, this is not always the case. For example, the word "respect" has its primary stress on the second syllable both when it’s a verb and a noun.

6. Six syllable words ending in "tion" are usually stressed on their fifth syllable. Examples: per-so-ni-fi-CA-tion, ca-pi-ta-li-SA-tion, i-ni-tia-li-SA-tion etc.

7. Three syllable words ending in "ly" often have their stress on the first syllable. Examples: OR-der-ly, QUI-et-ly etc.

8. Words ending in "ic", "sion" and "tion" are usually stressed on the second-to-last syllable. In this case, you are to count the syllables backward in order to get the second-to-last syllable. Examples: cre-A-tion, a-cco-mmo-DA-tion, com-MI-ssion, pho-to-GRA-phic etc.

8. Words ending in "cy", "phy", "al", "ty" and "gy" are usually on the third-to-last syllable. You should also the count syllables backward to get the third syllable. Examples: de-MO-cra-cy, pho-TO-gra-phy, CLI-ni-cal, a-TRO-si-ty, psy-CHO-lo-gy etc.

9. Most compound nouns (a word made up of two or more nouns) have their stress on the first noun. Examples: PLAYground, BLACKboard, FOOTball, KEYboard etc.

10. Compound verbs (a verb made up of two or more words) and compound adjectives (an adjective that is made up of two or more adjectives, which are linked together by a hyphen) usually have their stress on the second word or syllable.
outRIDE (compound verb).
outSHINE (compound verb).
old-FA-shioned (compound adjective).

In sum, the identification of the stressed syllables of English words is not an easy task. It is a process that requires a lot of practice and repetition as there are many rules and exceptions. For native speakers, this wouldn't be a problem, but for non-native speakers of the language, the reverse is always the case.  Therefore, the latter should immerse themselves in the enlightening dew of word stress through constant practice in order to be fortified. Should there be any problem while going through this process, don't hesitate to make reference to this page.

Feb 22, 2018

The difference between "steal", "rob", "burgle" and "mug"

The difference between "steal", "rob", "burgle" and "mug"

Second learners of English always use the verb, "steal", to explain any act of stealing regardless of how the action is performed. Although "steal" projects the main idea, it is important you tell how the "stealing" is done by using the right word. This will prevent further questioning from your listener(s) and also project you as one who is well-grounded in the language. Therefore, knowing how to use these semantically-related but contextually-distinct verbs is a great step towards learning the English Language.
The difference between "steal", "rob", "burgle" and "mug"
To steal means to secretly and peacefully take something from someone without his/her permission and without intending to return it. This means stealing is done secretly and does not involve violence.
1. That boy had been stealing from my shop.
2. Thieves stole her laptop.

To rob is to take money or property unlawfully from a person or public place in the open by force or threat of force. Robbery is not secret but is done openly and with violence. It's a planned and intended action mostly carried out by ruthless group of people.
1. I was robbed of my phones while returning from school.
2. They robbed three banks before they were caught.

To burgle is to enter or break into a person's house illegally with the intent to commit a crime, especially theft. This is accomplished when the occupants of the house are not at home or are away from the house.
1. We returned from church to find out that our house had been burgled.
2. We were burgled while at Church.

Example 2 simply means that our house was burgled while we were at the church. People cannot be burgled but their house(s). North Americans use "burglarize" instead of burgle. e.g., We were burglarized while at Church.

To mug is to attack somebody violently for the purpose of robbery. Mugging involves threats by the mugger and may either be carried out by one person or more.
He got mugged by three men.

When using either of these verbs, one must consider the situation (that is, the context), the way the "stealing" is done or the item is that is stolen. If either of these things is not taken into consideration, the speaker is bound to use these verbs inappropriately. For example, a wallet can be stolen but can't be robbed, burgled or mugged. A person can be robbed/mugged but can't be stolen or burgled. I have been burgled means my house was burgled. A bank can be robbed but can't be mugged. It may also interest you to know one who steals is called a thief; one who robs is called a robber; one who burgles is called a burglar; one who mugs is called is a mugger.

In sum, your language speaks volumes of you. Therefore, you should use it wisely and appropriately!

Feb 10, 2018

The difference between BALANCE and CHANGE (in monetary terms)

The difference between BALANCE and CHANGE (in monetary terms)

I have heard and seen some English teachers correct their students for saying "Give me my change." Their argument is that "balance" should be used instead of "change" for reasons best known to them. As a result, they advise their students to say "Give me my balance". Do you agree with this?
The difference between BALANCE and CHANGE (in monetary terms)
Well, no matter how convincing their reason may sound, I think they are wrong if not ignorant. It is never wrong to say "Give me my change." In monetary terms, a ​change​ is the "money given back when a customer hands over more than the exact price of an item." Simply put, change is the amount you receive  ​for paying in excess (that is, more than required amount). However, a ​balance​ is the amount you ​pay​ in addition to what has already been paid in order to clear your debt. It is the difference between an amount due and an amount paid. Before I proceed, check out some definitions of these terms on some online English dictionaries.
Definition of change by

English App

Check out the third definition.

Oxford dictionary
For example, if a bag costs #500, and you give the seller #1000, you have a change of #500 to receive because you paid more than the required amount. On the other hand, if a bag cost #100, but you could only pay #50, you have a ​balance​ of #50 to give the seller in order to clear your debt.

Sentence examples
1. Driver, you are supposed to give me a ​change​ of #50.
2. I still had a ​balance​ of 500 dollars to add up after making the first payment.

In a nutshell, both balance and change are very correct but not used in the same context. You receive​ a change (from a seller) but ​pay​ a balance (to a seller). Use these words appropriately.

Feb 8, 2018

Reasons why English teachers shouldn't always correct their students' mistakes

Reasons why English teachers shouldn't always correct their students' mistakes

Some teachers of English as a Second Language (henceforth ESL) are yet to realise that learning a language like English poses a whole lot problems even among native speakers let alone second learners of the language. Consequently, they always expect their students to speak flawlessly and will never hesitate to correct them if they do otherwise. On the other hand, there are ESL teachers who rarely or never correct their students' mistakes for reasons best known to them. Which category do you fall into, or which approach do you adopt?
Reasons why English teachers shouldn't always correct their students' mistakes 
Well, in my point of view, both approaches have serious weaknesses hence shouldn't be adopted by ESL teachers. The attitude of the first category of teachers will make the students nervous; thus, they won't be able to communicate effectively and fluently. Students may even lose motivation and shy away from using the language. The attitude of the second category of teachers will produce students who are very outspoken and fluent in ungrammatical sentences.

Therefore, ESL teachers should adopt a middle or balanced approach – an approach that neither gives room to incessant nor zero correction of students' mistakes. This approach will help both the teacher and the students.

The cruxes of the middle approach
1. In this approach, the students are allowed to speak freely while the teacher takes note of the mistakes made by the students in course of speaking.

2. The teacher groups these mistakes in topics, makes a note of each topic and plans an activity for a later lesson. In course of the lesson, the students take note of their mistakes and learn to avoid them when speaking or writing.

3. The teacher corrects the students only when it is necessary. The question is, "When is it necessary to correct students' mistakes?"

When should an English teacher correct students' mistake?
1. English teachers should correct students when they lack the right word or phrase to use. When students get stuck in their speech due to their inability to get the appropriate word or phrase, the teacher can help them out by mentioning the word or phrase. This will not only enhance communication but will also motivate the students.

2. English teachers should correct students if their speech will lead to misunderstanding. If a student is explaining a past event using present verb forms, he/she should be corrected in order not to confuse the listener(s).

How to correct ESL students when they make mistakes
In order to make your students not to repeat a corrected mistake, you have to take these points into consideration when correcting their mistakes:

1. You should explain to the students why it is a mistake. Pointing out a student's mistake to him/her without explaining why it is a mistake is like giving that student a test on what you didn't teach him/her. Unfortunately, this is the attitude of most ESL teachers. Students are more motivated to understand correct English when they understand why the wrong English is wrong.
2. Never hesitate to show the students a better way of saying it after telling them why it is wrong. You can as well give more examples that are similar to the mistake(s) being corrected, stating their forms and usage.

In sum, making mistakes, errors and corrections are part of the learning process of a language. However, the way one corrects the mistakes or errors made by a language learner greatly determines the learner's attitude towards that language. Therefore, ESL teachers should always adopt an approach that will instill in the minds of their students a positive attitude towards the language. If I must suggest, the middle or balanced approach is much more appropriate for teaching a language like English.

Jan 29, 2018

Reasons why Nigerians and indeed Africans should celebrate Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Reasons why Nigerians and indeed Africans should celebrate Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We had always thought that the African identity was only battered in literary texts maybe because we were among "the doubting Thomases" of our time and weren't born into any of the societies these writers project in their literary works. However, with the recent happenings across the world, it is an undeniable fact that literary texts reflect the society we live in. Apart from our kids and the unborn generation(s), we no longer need literary texts like Athol Fugard's Sizwe Bansi is Dead, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raising in the Sun, Richard Wright's Native Son and Black Boy, and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to expose the deliberate attempts of the West to batter the identity of anything that is African either by birth or skin colour as the drama is now on REPLAY on a daily basis.
Reasons why Nigerians and indeed Africans should celebrate Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
Westerners had always seen Africans as savage beings since time immemorial, and the present generation of the West is not thinking of wiping this ill perception of Africa off her mind yet. Joseph Conrad, in his classic tale, Heart of Darkness, describes Africa as a wild "dark" and "uncivilized" continent. In one of his writings, John Locke, a merchant who sailed to West Africa in 1561, describes Africans as "...people without heads having their mouth and eyes in their breast." As if that wasn't enough, few weeks ago, the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, referred to all African countries as "shithole countries". The recent attack on the Nigerian personality, and by extension, the African identity by a French journalist, Caroline Broué, cannot be swept under the carpet. During an on-stage interview with the Nigerian-born writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, at the launch of the "La Nuit Des Idees" (The night of ideas) in Paris, Caroline Broué indirectly but intentionally debased the Nigerian identity when she asked the writer whether or not Nigeria has bookshops. This question of the French journalist suggests nothing other than portraying Nigeria as a country of illiterates with no reading culture. By extension, according to Adichie, the question "...was about giving legitimacy to a deliberate, entitled, tiresome, sweeping, base ignorance about Africa." It was obvious that Adichie had no patience for such arrant nonsense hence her savage reply, "I think it reflects poorly on France that you asked that question."

The West's continual projection of Africa as barbaric, uncultured, ever-backward and a continent whose inhabitants are animals in human form despite her noticeable achievements in the international community shares striking similarities with Adichie's definition of a single story. According to Adichie, a single story "shows a people as one thing, as only one thing over and over again, and that thing is what they become." The single story creates a stereotype and makes one story to become the only story of a people. It is, therefore, obvious that Caroline Broué has a single story about Nigeria by stating that the French knew nothing about Nigeria aside Boko Haram and the insecurity problems caressing the nation. Caroline Broué's claim is not only a sheer display of hypocrisy but a validation of the claim that Westerners deliberately demean the African identity.

As regards this issue, African writers have never remained mute; through their pens, they have countered the ill perception of Africa by their Western counterparts. Prominent among them was Chinua Achebe who used his first novel, Things Fall Apart, to counter Joseph Conrad's uncouth perception of Africans and Africa. The most prolific writer of her generation, Adichie, is not left out in this fierce battle. She has fought tooth and nail to preserve anything that is African. Her recent peaceful quarrel with the French journalist, Caroline Broué, is a clear indication that Adichie is one of those Africans who will never trade the African heritage for anything, not even a good treat. Adichie's savage response to the interviewer's debasing question about Nigeria has won her precious places in the hearts of many individuals across the globe, the French inclusive. If you are looking for any reason to love Adichie, or triple your love for her, either of these reasons should end your search.

On the occasion of the "questionable question" asked by the French journalist, Adichie brilliantly divested intellectual battle from bloodshed. She made a firm and clear statement which spared Nigeria grave debasement and international ridicule, delivering it with so masterly a calm that wouldn't call for any French retaliation nor reflect any ulterior motive or intention. She has shown that Nigeria does not only have bookshops but also has sound thinkers and scholars.

She sets our nation Nigeria conspicuously on the world map. Adichie apparently takes a backpack of Nigeria with her as she tours the nations of the world. She has attained lofty heights and has managed to maintain relevance within the international space. She continually brings glory to Nigeria and is unrelenting in her defence of the nation as well as the portrayal of its image in positive light.

She has remained indigenously African in lifestyle, art and values despite the major part of her life spent abroad. She has not been swallowed up by the lifestyle, philosophy and mundane activities of the Western world but continually projects the African ideals in her works. The Nigerian setting and particularly the Igbo culture and the language remain familiar materials in her works.

She is a testimony of intellectual success at a time when majority think education should be relegated to the background as it doesn't really make anyone great nor achieve resounding feats. She has proven beyond every reasonable doubt that knowledge is great power. Describing Adichie in the wake of her writing career in his lifetime, the Late Chinua Achebe said: "Here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers...Adichie came almost fully made". Sustaining the good legacy of Late Achebe, she successfully paves a contemporary pathway for young Nigerian scholars to thrive. She is a national role model who has earned her spot, fitting in snugly.

It seems to be that there is a gargantuan African tongue that has been deployed by the eternally remarkable Chinua Achebe of blessed memory, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and few others. Adichie has cut a big portion of this continental tongue with which she has successfully filled her mouth. Tamuno Aribibia Reuben and Boma Batubo think it is expedient that all genuine Africans through whose veins the beautiful black blood flows pick up intellectual knives and cut off portions of this massive tongue for themselves if our identity must be defended and the precious image of our continent salvaged.

Co-author: Boma Batubo
Common English Errors you ignorantly make: A compilation of Tammy's online English tutorials

Common English Errors you ignorantly make: A compilation of Tammy's online English tutorials

Below are some common English errors you ignorantly make. Make sure you avoid using them after reading this article.
Common English Errors you ignorantly make: A compilation of Tammy's online English tutorials 
1. Don't Say: You're taking it personal.
Say: You're taking it personally.

Reason: "Personal" is an adjective, so it can't qualify or modify the verb "taking" in the sentence. "Personally" is in the right position to do so since it is an adverb. An adverb modifies a verbs, adjectives and fellow adverbs.

2. Don't Say: The reason is because...
Say: The reason is that...
Say: It is because... (depending on the sentence structure).

Reason: "Because" is used to state a reason or cause. Therefore, placing both words together is somewhat tautological.

3. Don't Say: Get my stuffs ready.
Say: Get my stuff ready (regardless of the number).

Reason: Like "luggage", the word "stuff" does not take a plural marker. It remains "stuff" irrespective of the number.

4. Don't Say: Free gift
Say: Gift or freebie.

Reason: A gift is something that is given for free, so adding "free" to the word makes it tautologous.

5. Don't ever use "severally" to mean "several times" because both words are semantically different. Whereas several times means "many times", severally means "individually" or "separately".

6. Don't say: My names are...
Say: My name is...

Reason: The number of words in your name collectively projects your identity. Whether your name  has three words or more words, e.g., "Tammy Trust Reuben", they all sum up to give you an identity. You can't be "Tammy" in one occasion, and be "Reuben" in other occasion. "Tammy Trust Reuben" is what we refer to as your "full name".  However, you might decide to give your name in parts depending on the environment you find yourself, but that does not make you a different individual.

Again, if you can't say, the titles of the book ARE "The English language in Nigeria", you shouldn't say, my names ARE "Tammy Trust Reuben". Just like the name of a person, the title of a book consists of several words, but we don't pluralize the title of a book because of the number of words it is made up of. We usually say, "The title of the book is..."

Professionally, we say it is a singular noun phrase or a collective noun hence doesn't need a plural verb.

Here is another way to look at its usage. Can you say, "Tammy Trust Reuben ARE the owner of the car"? No! This is because Tammy Trust Reuben refers to one person despite the number of words that make up the name. But you can confidently say, "Tammy Trust Reuben IS the owner of the car".

Therefore, it should be "my name is...", and not otherwise.

7. Don't Say: There is no two ways about it.
Say: There are no two ways about it.

Reason: A plural noun should take a plural verb. Therefore, "two ways" should take "are" and not "is".

8. When travelling by bus,
Say: I'm on the bus.
Don't Say: I'm in the bus.

Reason: Click here to read the reason.

9. Don't Say She delivered a baby boy.
Say: She was delivered of a baby boy.

Reason: "she delivered a baby boy" is non standard and also ambiguous in the Nigerian context.

10. Don't Say: Lacking behind.
Say: Lagging behind.

Reason: "lacking behind" is the Nigerian version of the standard expression, "lagging behind".

11. Don't say: Crack your brain.
Say: Wrack/Rack your brain.

Reason: Your brain is not a wall.

12. Don't say: Don't repeat that again.
Say: Don't repeat that.

Reason: The use of "repeat" and "again" makes the sentence tautologous.

13. Don't say: The book comprises of three chapters.
Say: The book comprises three chapters.
Say: The book is comprised of three chapters.

Reason: unlike "consist", "comprise" does not collocate with the preposition "of". However, there is an exception to this rule. When "comprise" takes its past participle form with the help of a "be" verb preceding it, it can collocate with the preposition "of".

The "be" verb has eight variants: be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been. Therefore, we can also say, "The books are comprised of...", "The books were comprised of...", and so on. Once you take any of these eight variants and place it before the verb, "comprise", you get "comprised", which can collocate with "of", thereby giving you "comprised of". This is the only exception.

14. Don't say: I forgot my phone at home.
Say: I left my phone at home.

Reason: When you use the verb "forget", you don't state the place where you left the item.

15. Don't say: Letterhead paper.
Say: Letterhead.

Reason: One of the definitions of "letterhead" is "a paper marked with letterhead". Therefore, heading "paper" to the word "letterhead" is a needless repetition.

16. Don't say: I have a running nose.
Say: I have a runny nose.

Reason: As regards this, "runny" is the correct adjective and not "running". Moreover, your nose is not an athlete. Lol!

17. Don't Say: I have a running stomach.
Don't Say: I have a runny stomach.
Say: I have an upset stomach.

Reason: This is a case of collocation, and in this regard, "upset" collocates with "stomach".

18. Did you know that the word, "copious" has nothing to do with "copy"?. "Copious" means vast in quantity, e.g., copious examples. English can be crazy at times.

19. Don't Say: ATM Machine, GTB Bank, PIN Number, BVN Number etc.
Say: ATM, GTB, PIN, BVN etc.

Reason: The last word in each of these abbreviations is a reduplication of the final letter in each of the abbreviation. For example, "ATM Machine" can be rewritten as "Automated Teller Machine Machine".

20. The principal invited my friend and ...... to his office.
(a) I
(b) ME

Reason: You use "me" if the nouns/pronouns can be replaced with "us" whereas you use "I" if they can be replaced with "we".

Now let's analyse the sentence:

"The principal invited my friend and ME to his office."

The above sentence can as well be written as:
"The principal invited US to his office."

You can see that "my friend" and "me" have been replaced with "us" without altering the grammaticality or meaning of the sentence.

You can't say, "The principal invited WE to his office" because "we" cannot replace "my friend or me"; it can only replace "my friend" and "I".

Below is a sentence example where "we" can correctly replace "my friend" and "I", and this will be the passive voice of our sentence of analysis:

"My friend and I were invited by the principal."

The above sentence can be rewritten as "We were invited by the principal", and not "Us were invited by the principal." This is because "my friend and I" can only be replaced with "we".

Therefore, use "me" if it can be replaced with "us" and use "I" if it can be replaced with "we".


You can also get the right pronoun to use by using this method. In other words, you can as well look at the sentence from this angle.
Can you say, "The principal invited I to his office" if you remove "my friend and" from the sentence? The answer is NO. But you can say, "The principal invited ME to his office" if you delete "my friend and" from the sentence.

Therefore, "me" is the correct option!

This page will be updated on a daily basis. Therefore, it is important you bookmark it, revisit it daily or download our android app. Should you have any English word that is wrongly used by learners of English, kindly use the comment box to state it. 

Jan 20, 2018

What is the actual meaning of the "RSVP" on a wedding (invitation) card? Find out!

What is the actual meaning of the "RSVP" on a wedding (invitation) card? Find out!

The term RSVP comes from the French phrase, “Respondez, s'il vous plait", which means “Please respond". However, its use, over the years, has changed, especially in countries where English is taught and learnt as a second language. This is one reason you shouldn't be lost in amazement when a Nigerian tells you that RSVP means "Rice and Stew Very Plenty", which means there will be abundance of food in the wedding for guests' consumption. LOL! I can't really tell where this strange meaning emanated from, but I'm sure it is a way of making most persons attend the wedding since food is one of the basic needs of man. Or can it be attributed to ignorance?
What is the actual meaning of the "RSVP" on a wedding (invitation) card? Find out!
Originally, when a couple sent you a wedding invitation, it was expected that you indicate in writing or call whether you would be able to honour the invitation. The number or address given at the RSVP section was the "recipient address" to direct your reply. This was to help them in making arrangements for food and other things. Unlike in the Nigerian setting where total strangers attend weddings, then, weddings were strictly by invitation and foods were served according to the number of people who responded that they would be able to make it. 

However, in today's usage, there is a twist in the actual meaning of RSVP. Apart from the strange and hilarious meaning given to it in Nigeria, most persons have mistaken RSVP for officiating minister, so they put their pastor's name and number there. I first realized this when I saw a member of church seriously questioning a couple for not including a pastor's name in the RSVP section as one of the officiating ministers. "Could this be a joke?", I asked myself, but later realized that the supposed joke is a common practice in this part of the world when my friend showed me numerous wedding cards with the names and phone numbers of officiating ministers in the RSVP section. I have seen very few wedding cards without this new usage ever since. 

Again, It will interest you to know that most persons also call on the numbers in the RSVP section to verify the wedding location, the wedding colours,  and perhaps the choice of gift to present. This is, indeed, a new tread; it wasn't like this. The real thing was that a guest who wanted to know the choicest gift to give the couple usually called the mother of the bride because it was believed that she knew the best choices of her daughter. This is a clear indication that attending a wedding was strictly by invitation.

With the current use of RSVP in this part of the world, it is obvious that the table has been turned around, and from all indications, the use of the term (RSVP) today has come to stay. The question is, "Should we continue using it (RSVP) the way we've understood it or subscribe to its actual usage?" After all, language is dynamic.