Blog Posts

Fish Out The Grammatical Errors In This Piece

A colleague of mine, Mr Godswill Amadi, shared this seeming piece with me and I tried my best to fish out some  of the hidden grammatical errors. Can you do same? 

Read the piece below:

The first doctor,Mr Akin did a more better prognosis than the second,Mr Obin.However,a medical advice from the health organisation(H.O) cancelled further medical session involving the patient;the prognosis notwithstanding.The H.O broke a news,a hearth-warming news,of an european hospital which has offered to grant the patient a free medical treatment.The government,according to reports,has received the offer with great joy and in their generousity decided to foot the bill of her travel.


What Is Concord?

Good English is not judged by or based on the number of complex vocabulary or sentences your essay contains but by the good use of concord. "Concord" is easily defined by a good number of people who rarely apply its rules. The English essays of so many persons have been awarded zero due to the continuous feud and hassle between the subject and the verb in their sentences. Undergraduates, learners and even graduates of English are no doubt victims of this unavoidable mistake; thus, my decision to write this article. 
What Is Concord?

Concord is all about obeying the rules that govern the subject(s) and the verb(s) in a sentence. unarguably, if these rules are totally adhered to while writing your essay, your essay will not only be good but also be the best. Before stating these rules, it is paramount that you know the meaning of concord. 

What Is Concord? 
In simple terms, concord is defined as the agreement between all the parts of a clause or sentence, particularly between the subject and the verb. 

Rules of Concord
1. Singular nouns should take singular verbs.
  • Emeka needs help.
  • Emeka and Kalu need help.
2. All personal pronouns at the subject position except the third person singular pronouns (he/she/it) should take plural verbs.
  • love delicious meals.
  • We love delicious meals.
  • They love...
  • You love...
The words underlined above are the personal pronouns that must take plural verbs in sentences. On the other hand, the third person singular pronouns(he/she/it), which occupy the subject position in a sentence, must take singular verbs.
  • He loves delicious meals.
  • She loves delicious meals.
  • It loves...
'Loves' is the singular form of 'love' and goes with a singular noun or pronoun as shown in the sentences above.

Note: In English language, most nouns form their plural by the addition of 's', 'es', 'ies', 'ves' whereas verbs form their singular form by the addition of 's'. Hope you got the difference?

3. The base form of any lexical verb coming after the primary auxiliary verbs (has, have, be, is, was, had, were etc.) should be in its past participle form.
  • have rung the bell.
  • He has rung the bell.
  • The bell was rung by him.
  • The battle has just begun.
  • Let the song be sung.
4. If singular subjects are joined by either of the correlative conjunctions('either or' and 'neither nor'), the subject is considered singular, and as such,  the verb will also be singular.
  • Either Emeka or Emma is coming.
  • Neither the teacher nor the principal has a pen.

5. Nouns that traditionally end in 's' should take a singular verb.
  • Measles is a deadly disease.
  • Mathematics is simple but difficult subject to many.
6. There are some cases where nouns which do not end in 's' are considered as plural nouns. In this case, such nouns should take plural verbs in sentences.
  • The rich also cry.
  • The Police are investigating the case.
  • Nigerian Clergy are very honest.
7. If the two nouns or items joined are closely related and always used together, the subject is considered singular, and the verb also becomes singular.
  • Eba and egusi soup is very delicious.
  • Bread and butter is my favourite lunch.
  • Rice and beans is very delicious too.
8. In a case where one of the two items joined is singular while the other one is plural, the verb will maintain agreement with the item closer to it.
  • Either Emeka or his teachers are angry.
  • Neither the teachers nor Emeka is angry.
In example one above, the plural verb, "are", is used because the noun closer to it is a plural noun.

9. When making use of semi  conjunctions, the verb maintains agreement with the first item mentioned. If the first item is a singular noun, the verb automatically becomes singular irrespective of the form of the second item and vice versa. Semi conjunctions are words that are used as conjunctions but are not actually conjunctions. Semi conjunctions include: followed by, as well as, as much as, along with, together with, no less than, including etc.
  • Emeka as well as his friends is intelligent.
  • The man's sons together with the man are notorious.
  • The rich including the manager were there before I left.

Should English Graduates Use Abbreviations And Shorthand On Social Media?

A senior colleague of mine, Sarah Daba Wilson, is of the view that graduates of English language shouldn't use shorthand and abbreviations while typing or chatting on social media in order to improve their formal writings. Her candid opinion spurred graduates, undergraduates and learners of English to also give their candid opinions on the subject matter which were 'for' and 'against' her stance.

Check out these comments and if need be, state your stance:

My Senior Colleague's (Sarah's) Stance:

In any medium of communication, language is used and in every language there are varieties. It therefore suffices to say that no matter the medium chosen, of which social media is one, there are factors that greatly influence users. 

There is the age variation, social variation, class variation, ethnic variation, personal variation, professional variation. The point is that language varies according to users. 
Now back to my point which says

"Graduates of English should stop writing in shorthand."

No one can authoritatively tell me that "shorthand writing" is a variety of English language. If you ever opine it is a 'social media' form of expression, please can you kindly tell me what class of people have the 'exclusivity' of social media usage? Mind you, people also write text messages, emails and letters in shorthand. So it is not a social media language feature.

Is this shorthand writing always understood by parties in a discourse on social media? I can tell you most of the time, the answer is a resounding 'NO'. How do you communicate with abbreviations like 'idgaf', 'idk', 'wtf', 'Kk', 'Aiit', 'ttul', 'ilv', 'lmdfa', etc to a social media users that does know the meaning? If we cannot use 'short tongue' when speaking, why use 'shorthand' when writing?

I still maintain my stand!!!
And that stand is distinct. As graduates of English language we should develop the habit of not always writing in shorthand because it would not speak well of us when we communicate. It is even worse when you write that way in a formal situation. From experience, I have taught a couple of young people as part time work and I discovered the vast majority of our young people are prone to writing that way. Some of the common words I come across are:

u for You, bcs for because, jst for just, cm for come, tnx for thanks, the list is endless.

In conclusion, I reaffirm that though shorthand writing seems  a more comfortable yet frivolous way to write it should be greatly discouraged.

Comment by Tammy's English and Literary Blog:

Variation is part and parcel of any language hence the different dialects of all languages. In fact, it is one the instruments that is used in measuring a language that is widely spoken. The use of social media brought another variety of the English language(the social media English/Language of social media). Like other varieties of the English language, this variety has its distinct features. It is a variety that is spiced with shorthand and abbreviations, simple sentence structure  and mostly used among youths.

The question is: do users of this variety understand themselves? If yes, I don't see any reason why we should stop or advise them from using the orthography of the variety. Putting a stop to or asking users of this variety to stop the use of abbreviations and shorthand on social media while chatting or typing is like altering the orthography of the language and at the same time, telling a Nigerian to stop communicating in pidgin English which is of course, impossible.

Though this variety is not acceptable in formal writings, it has no doubt easily expressed the thoughts of many. Therefore, I will advise, the popular saying, 'when you go to Rome behave like the Romans' be applied. Everyone (English graduates inclusive) should be entitled to use any of these varieties depending on the environment since language is situational.

In sum, I don't see anything wrong in using abbreviations and shorthand on social media as long as the users can understand themselves but its users should try as much as possible not to let it affect their formal writings. I don't also see its use as an outdated model.

Comment by Joy Iwuchukwu Daniels:

Reading  through the conversation and debate on the use of shorthand it behoves me to lend my voice to the argument, first of all we must know that we have what we call "language of social media", its  usage  is solely dependent  on the  sociolinguistic variable- age.this is evident because despite the fact that we have language of the social media we find out this style of language is usually used by youths , people of a certain age bracket while the adults prefer the correct usage....... while i do not subscribe to its continuous usage ,I find myself using it as far as their is communication between the co-interactant....I also concur with my bro @Ayitams, we must learn to put a line between informal and formal discussion,if you feel you cant then desist from the use or else you will have yourself to blame...As for my lovely concern users of English just know that it is just a fad.

Comment by Ayitams Clement:

Well, shorthand is used in informal writings, and social media, as far as we are all concerned, is an informal platform hence the abbreviations and 'shorthand' words we get to come across on a daily basis. Individually I'm careful enough to not let it affect my formal writings, so to me, it's not a problem. As an English graduate I am entitled to the use of shorthands and abbreviations on social media. That's my take on the issue though.

Comment by Hymar Idibie David:

It is outdated and juvenile. And if you don't watch it, it becomes a habit. You find yourself making shorthand mistakes in formal writing.

Wetin una wan use the 2 seconds una save by writing thru instead of through do?

Comment by Emy Josephs:

This is so true. Haba! Me I don't get it sef! I don't have a problem with Shorthand. But it would be a lot easier if everybody (non English graduates inclusive) can just spell their words in full.

 Comment by Pr'ttycious Okwu:

Is so chronic now dat I even use it in formal writings. I keep cancelling, making my work look rough.But den is faster. I subscribe to laziness.

What is your take on this debate?

25 English Words Borrowed And Coined From The Igbo Language.

Can this be true? At first, I doubted it but the rate at which the English language borrowed words from both the Greek and Latin languages gave me the conviction that it could borrow words from other languages. This time  around, it is from Africa, precisely the Igbo Language spoken in the Eastern part of Nigeria.

See the words below:
  1. Cherubim – Borrowed from Igbo phrase ‘’chere ubim’’ which means ‘’guard my home’’
  2. Book – Borrowed from Igbo phrase “bu uka’’ meaning ‘’carries the facts’’
  3. Water – Stolen from Igbo word ‘’wuta’’ which means ‘’pour’’
  4. Nurse – Coined from the phrase ‘’noro nso’’ meaning ‘’stay near’’
  5. Animal – Coined from the Igbo phrase ‘’anu malu’’ which when translated means ‘’meat that knows’’ or ‘’flesh aware of life’’ or ‘’meat is conscious’’
  6. Bank – Gotten from the phrase "uba na aka’’ meaning "wealth at hand’’
  7. Harlot – Coined from ‘’ha laa otu’’ meaning ‘’they had sex’’ 
  8. Say – stolen from Igbo word ‘’Si’’ which means say
  9. Answer – gotten from ‘’nsa’’ which means ‘’response’’
  10. Carpenter – coined from the phrase ‘’ka apita’’ which means ‘’carve out’’
  11. News – gotten from ‘’nu zuo’’ which means ‘’hear it all’’ 
  12. Soccer – coined from ‘’oso ka’’ which means ‘’running is greater’’ or “there is more running done’’ or ‘’greater at running’’
  13. Patrol – gotten from ‘’puta uli’’ meaning ‘’come out for strolls’’
  14. Sabbath – coined from ‘’Asaa bu taa’’ which means ‘’today is seventh’’ or ‘’seventh is this day’’
  15. Amen – gotten from ‘’ya mee nu’’ which means ‘’may it be done’’
  16. Genesis – coined from the phrase ‘’jee na isi isi’’ meaning ‘’go to the very beginning’’
  17. Conquer – gotten from ‘’nku ka’’ which means ‘’break down’’
  18. Queue – borrowed from ‘’kwih’’ or ‘’kwunye’’ meaning ‘’join in’’
  19. Music/Musical – gotten from ‘’mee uzu ka’’ which means ‘’make the greatest noise’’
  20. Quote – gotten from ‘’kwute’’ which means ‘’make mention"
  21. Page – coined from ‘’pia jie’’ meaning fold
  22. Boy – gotten from ‘’bu oyi’’ which means ‘’be friend’’
  23. Girl – coined from ‘’ga alu’’ meaning ‘’will marry’’
  24. Embassy – coined from the phrase ‘’mba zie’’ which means ‘’nations message’’
  25. Catastrophe – coined from the phrase ‘’akata asi tufia’’ meaning ‘’when mentioned the Igbos eject saliva from the mouth and say ‘tufia’ ‘’ 
To an extent, these words have similar sounds. What do you think? If this is true, it simply means that before the English Language, there was the Igbo Language. Is Igbo really the lost tribe of Israel?


ONYINYE by Kaydee Numbere

Remember the second son of Apostle G.D Numbere of blessed memory, Kaydee Numbere, whom I told you knotted the traditional tie with the love of his life, Senaabella Onyinye? Well, if you can't remember, read it here:

The news is that he just released a love song for his beautiful wife in preparation of their white wedding which comes up on Saturday, October 29, 2016. Wow! One thing is to love and the other thing is make the person you love feels that you truly love him/her. I think Kaydee can do this love thing very well. Lol!
Always check this blog for update.

Meanwhile you can download the song here: Direct download:

Features Of Auxiliary Verbs

There are four(4) main features which distinguish auxiliary verbs from other verbs. If a word or verb doesn't possess these features, it is not an auxiliary verb:

A word is an auxiliary verb if it can be used in negation.
1. They are crying profusely.
They are not/aren't  crying profusely.
          aux.     aux not.
'Are' is an auxiliary verb because you can use it with the negator, 'not'. Once you can add 'not' to a word and it still remains grammatical,then the word is an auxiliary verb.  Try it with other auxiliary verbs you know and see, e.g. can, do, should, must etc.
'Not' is a negator adverb that you add to a positive preposition in order to change it to negative.

2. Interrogation
If a verb can be used in interrogative permutation, it means it is an auxiliary verb.
1. I can drive.            Can you drive?
2.I must drive.          Must I drive?
3. I should drive.      Should I drive? Etc.
The fact that the above statements can be turned to question, confirms the fact that 'can', 'must' & 'should' are auxiliary verbs.

Any verb that cannot be used in interrogative permutation cannot be an auxiliary verb.
He happened to be there.
Happened he to be there?(ungrammatical)

In the above sentence, 'happened' is not an auxiliary verb because it cannot be used in interrogative permutation, so you add the auxiliary 'do' e.g. Did he happen to be there?(grammatical)

3. Code
It is a term used by J.R Firth. It is also called 'Avoidance of Repetition'. If a word or verb can be used as code, then it is an auxiliary verb.

I can drive a car and so can my husband.

The above sentence is used instead of 'I can drive a car and my husband can a drive'. In order not to repeat the clause, 'my husband can a drive' we introduced the auxiliary, 'can' which functions as a code.

Anyone word  that cannot be used as a code is not an auxiliary verb.
The audience laughed and so laughed the performer.

The above sentence is ungrammatical because 'laugh' is not an auxiliary verb and cannot  function as a code, so you add the auxiliary, 'do' to make it grammatical. Remember, 'do' is also an auxiliary verb.
'The audience laughed and so did the performer.'

4. Emphatic Affirmation
Auxiliary verbs generally are not stressed,e.g. he is writing a test. The auxiliary 'is' in this sentence is not stressed. 
When you want to emphasize something, you stress the auxiliary verb, e.g. You MUST write the test.
Ordinarily, you stress the lexical verb, e.g. You must WRITE the test.

In a nutshell, if a non lexical verb is stressed for purpose of emphasis, it is an auxiliary verb.

The auxiliary, 'do' is described as a dummy. It is used as an auxiliary only when a verbal group/phrase lacks one. It  functions as a lexical verb, e.g. I will do it very well. It chiefly functions in negation and interrogation, e.g. You do not ask/You did not ask. Do you like it? Did you ask?


What Is a Conjunction?

What Is a Conjunction?
Conjunctions are words that are used in joining two or more grammatical items (it could be words, phrases and clauses).

Types of Conjunction
In English language, we have three types of conjunctions: Coordinating Conjunction, Subordinating Conjunction and Correlating Conjunction.

1. Coordinating Conjunction
Coordinating conjunctions are conjunctions that link or join two grammatical entities that are of equal status. Coordinating conjunctions are 'linkers' and are also called 'main' or 'primary' conjunctions. There are three main Coordinating conjunctions in English: 'and', 'or', 'but’.

'And' joins two things that are of equal grammatical status, and from the semantic point of view, it means addition.
1. Union Bank is big, strong and reliable.
2. Mary and John are my friends.

'And' can also mean result, e.g., He drove recklessly and crashed into the river.

It can also mean contrast, e.g., Mary is tall and John is short.

'Or' suggests alternative, e.g., You can study English or History.

It also means restatement, e.g., He is clever or so he thinks he is.

It can join two clauses, e.g., You can study history or can go to school of Nursing.

'But', as a coordinating conjunction, is contrastive. It shows or means contrast.

1. John is young but he is lazy.
2. The man is very rich but he is very miserable.

2. Subordinating Conjunction
Subordinating conjunctions are also called binders. They bind two things that are of unequal grammatical status. Subordinating conjunctions bind a main/independent clause and a subordinating/dependent clause.
1. If it rains tonight, I will not go out.
2. There will not be peace until men and women love themselves.
3. Whereas he walked out, his sister spent her time parking.

The underlined words are the subordinating conjunctions. Other Examples of subordinating conjunctions are if, as, while, whilst, before, although, though, where, until, whereas, because etc.

3. Correlating Conjunction
This type of conjunction involves the use of two conjunctions in linking or joining words, phrases or clauses together. The correlating conjunctions we have are: 'either or' and 'neither nor.'
1. Neither you nor Emeka gave her the money.
2. Either Joy or her sister brought the book.

Different Ways To Say "I'm Sorry" in English

The English language has again proven itself as a language that is very rich in synonyms and vocabulary. The other day, I showed us different ways to say 'thank you', and today, I will be showing us different ways to say 'I'm sorry' in English. If you are someone who doesn't like doing things the conventional way, this article is yours. Enjoy yourself as I take you on this stress-free ride.

Some of the different ways to say 'I'm sorry' in English are:

1. To Apologise
The verb, 'to apologise' is a very formal way to say 'sorry.' It is mostly used by companies or organisations to their customers if they feel their customers have been mistreated or inconvenienced on a particular issue. If you are an MTN user, you can attest to the fact that most times the telecommunication company sends a message like: "...we sincerely apologise for the inconveniences..." if it feels its customers are finding it difficult to make calls or surf the net as a result of system upgrade or poor network signal.

You as an individual can also use it to say 'sorry' to someone you offended.
I apologise for not visiting you as agreed.

2. I hope you can forgive my action.
It is another way to say 'sorry', but you use it if there is an intimate relationship between you and the person you are asking for his/her pardon because 'forgiveness' implies that there is a very personal element to the plea. In other words, you ask for forgiveness if the person is very close to you; otherwise, you should use either of the other ways.
I was really in a bad mood when your call came in hence my rude utterances to you. I hope you can forgive my actions.

3. I owe you an apology
Unlike 'I apologise', in this case we are using the noun, 'apology'. It is a formal way to say 'sorry' and can be used between friends whose friendship has been dismantled  for one reason or the other, and one is accepting that he/she is wrong and is trying to make it right.
I owe you an apology for my unruly behaviour the other day.

4. That was my bad/My bad.
I actually learnt this from a friend on one of  the social media platforms. Surprisingly, it is a way to say 'sorry' but an informal and colliqual way of doing that. It can only be used among friends/peer groups and age mates because it may seem disrespectful saying it to someone who is older than you.

Question: Tammy, why didn't you call me before going to church as you promised?

Tammy: Oh! It's my bad.

In sum, 'I'm sorry' can heal many wounds, so it is important we cultivate the habit of saying 'sorry' anytime we offend each other. Using any of the of the aforementioned patterns will no doubt show that you are truly sorry for your actions without using the conventional form (I'm sorry). 'I'm sorry' can be used in all context but if you want to vary your vocabulary by using either of the aforementioned ways, you should always use it properly.

What Is A Noun?

In primary and high schools, we were taught that a noun is a name of person, animal, place or thing. Well, this definition is not wrong but to an extent, it is limited because a noun is not just the name of a person, animal place or thing. A noun is a word class/part of speech that is used for naming. It is used to name places, ideas, emotions, things, objects etc. Just name anything and you will get a noun.

Types/Classes of Nouns
Nouns are classified into two:Proper and Common Nouns. Common nouns are further classified into: Countable and Uncountable(Mass) nouns. Countable and Uncountable nouns are further classified into: Concrete and Abstract nouns.

Now let's explain them one by one:

Proper Nouns
Proper nouns are:
  • Names of persons including their titles, e.g. Mr Tammy Reuben, Dr Ezekiel Israel etc.
  • Names of places like countries, cities, towns, villages etc.
  • Days of the week, months of the year, dates of holidays like democracy day, Christmas day, easter etc.
  • Names of institutions, e.g.The Niger Delta University, The Nigerian Army, Olu Model Schools etc.
  • Names of newspapers and magazines, e.g. The Punch Newspaper, The Guidian Newspaper etc.
  • Titles of books, e.g. Intensive English, Standard Literature in English etc.
  • Names of rivers, e.g. The River Nun, The River Niger etc.
  • Names of lakes, e.g Lake Chad etc.
Features of Proper Nouns
  • Proper nouns are written with initial capital letters, e.g. Mr Tammy Reuben, Lagos, Olu Model Schools etc.
  • Proper nouns do not take plural forms except in few cases in order to show instances. e.g. Sundays are my rest days. Here is an instance of the day of the week called Sunday.
  • Proper nouns do not take determiners/articles(the, a/an). However, there are instances where proper nouns can occur with determiners or/and with the plural marker, 's'
  • Don't mind him, he is an Abacha
  • Is there a Judas in this class?
  • The Tamunos are visiting us to night.
Proper nouns like names of mountains, institutions, rivers, newspapers occur with an obligatory determiner/article. e.g. The Mount Everest, The University of Port Harcourt, The River Nun, The Punch etc. If these proper nouns are written or spoken without a determiner, it is unacceptable in English.

Common Nouns
Common nouns are words used to make general items rather than specific ones. Common nouns may occur with limiting modifiers like: a/an, some, every & my. As general rule, a common noun does not begin with an initial capital letter unless it appears at the start of a sentence. Examples of common nouns are: television, book, radio, chair, dog, window, pen etc.

Countable Nouns
Countable nouns are things we can count. Countable nouns can be singular or plural, thus we can say, 'one apple', 'two apples.' We can use 'a' or 'an' with singular countable nouns. e.g. an orange, a pencil.
One cannot use singular nouns alone without 'a' or 'an' or 'the'.
I need apple. (Wrong)
I need an apple. (Right)

However, one can use Plural countable nouns alone. e.g. I need mangoes.
'Some', 'any', 'many', 'few' can be used with plural countable nouns. e.g. some books, any hotel, many chairs, few bowls etc.

Uncountable/Mass Nouns
Uncountable nouns are things we cannot count. An uncountable noun does not change its form. For example, we can only say 'sand' and not 'two sands.'
We cannot use 'a/an' with uncountable nouns but can only add 'partitives' to uncountable nouns in order to make them countable.
A piece of information.
A plate of rice.
A bucket of water.
A bag of rice.
A sheet of paper.
Partitives  are expressions used to make an uncountable noun, countable. You can see them in the examples above.

We can use uncountable nouns alone without 'the', 'my', 'some' etc. e.g. we eat rice every morning.
We can use 'some' and 'many' with uncountable nouns.
You can buy any apple juice. 
Please, I need some rice. 

We can also use 'much' and 'little' with uncountable nouns.
I didn't do much work today.
There is little rice left in the pot.

Under uncountable/mass noun, we have:
1.Concrete uncountable nouns
2. Abstract uncountable nouns.

Concrete uncountable nouns are things that we can see and touch but cannot count them, e.g. water, oil, wheat, rice, blood, wood, sand etc.

On other hand, abstract uncountable nouns are the names given to things that cannot be touched or seen or counted, e.g. friendship, love, wisdom, loyalty, hatred, smell, beauty, stupidity etc.

It is important to note that some uncountable nouns have the -s morpheme at the end, e.g. waters, papers, works, sands, peoples but doesn't make them countable as they are being in different context.
Now let's see some sentences:
1. The River Niger empties its waters into the Atlantic.
In the sentence above, you are referring to a body of water and not as a countable noun.

2. The professor has several papers published in international journals.
When we say papers, we are not referring to it as a substance.

3. The peoples of the Niger Delta are: Ijaws, Itshekiri etc.
We use peoples when referring to ethnic nationalities.

4. The works of Chinue Achebe has been translated into more than fifty languages.
You use works when you are referring to the artistic input of a person. In terms of works, we also have Engineering works or Ministry of works.

5. We also have an expression which has a connotative meaning: The sands of time. For example, Emeka was able to survive the sands of time. In this case, 'sand' is  not referred to as a substance.

6. You also have salts in chemistry.

It is important to note the -s morpheme added to these uncountable nouns doesn't make them countable.

Other types of nouns are: Collective nouns, compound nouns and foreign nouns.

Collective nouns
Collective nouns are names given to group of things or people. They don't usually take plural forms. 
Flock of sheep
Committee of friends.
Host of Angels.
Gang of thieves.
Library of books
Bunch of keys.
Fleet of cars etc.

Compound Nouns
Compound nouns comprises two words. Examples are: mothers in-law, passers by, Women doctors, Major General etc.

Foreign noun:
You can read about foreign nouns here.