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The reason why you can't say "give him him book" but can say "give her her book"

As a teacher and an online tutor of English as a Second Language (ESL), one of the funniest questions I've ever got from English learners is: Why is “Give him him book” considered ungrammatical unlike “Give her her book”? If you are among these persons, don't stop reading until you get to the end. Although there might be other reasons why it is grammatically wrong to say “Give him him book”, this article discusses only the simplest reason in order to aid better understanding. 
The reason why you can't say "give him him book" but can say "give her her book"
In English grammar, there is what we call possessive pronouns. Possessive pronouns are pronouns that are used to show that something or someone belongs to you. In other words, possessive pronouns are used to show ownership. Examples of possessive pronoun are "my", "mine", "her", "hers", "his", "our", "ours", "their", "theirs", "your" and "yours".

Sentence Examples
1. This is my book.

2. This book is mine.

3. That is her pen.

4. That pen is hers.

5. This is our land.

6. This land is ours.

7. Give them their pens.

8. These pens are theirs.

9. Your house is very big.

10. The food is yours.

11. Don't hesitate to give him his pen.

12. The red bag is his.

From the aforementioned examples of possessive pronouns, you will notice that "him" does not constitute the list. This simply means that "him" is not a possessive pronoun hence can't be used to show ownership. In other words, you can't say "him book" since "him" is not a possessive pronoun. "Him" (which is the objective case of 'he') is a personal pronoun, and its gender equivalent that is used to show possession/ownership is "his". That is why we can boldly say "his book".


"His" is always used to show ownership whereas "him" is mostly used instead of a noun in the object position of a sentence.
1. The man slapped Emeka.
    The man slapped him.

2. This is Emeka's book.
    This is his book.

On the other hand, you can say "give her her book" because "her" is a personal pronoun and also a possessive pronoun. Most times, we are compelled to question the ungrammaticality of the sentence "give him him book" because of the presence of the double "her" in "give her her book" without knowing that the double "her" are very distinct, both in function and type. The first "her" in "give her her book" is personal while the second "her" is possessive. So, the sentence can be rewritten as "give Ada her book". Unlike "him", "her" has no different gender equivalent to show possession or person so it functions as a personal pronoun and a possessive pronoun.

In sum, it is very ungrammatical to say "give him him book" because "him" is not a possessive pronoun but a personal pronoun hence cannot be used to show ownership/possession.

What is the difference between "few" and "a few"? Find out

Sometimes, our utterances or sentences convey meanings that are totally different from our original thoughts due to our inappropriate use of words. This is always the case when we are to choose between two words that are morphologically identical but semantically different. Examples of such words are "a few and few", "a little and little". These words might look alike on the surface but do not carry the same meaning; hence, we should apply ultimate carefulness when using them.

Few, a few, little and a little function as quantifiers when they precede nouns. They tell the quantity of the nouns that follow them. In order not to deviate from the thematic preoccupation of this article, only "a few" and "few" will be discussed.
What is the difference between "few" and "a few"? Find out

Both "a few" and "few" mean small quantity and are generally used with countable nouns. In English, countable nouns are nouns that can take plural markers; e.g., chair/chairs; man/men; lady/ladies; church/churches etc. So, you can say "few books", "a few men", "few chairs" etc. 

However, “few” is used when the quantity of the item is so small that it is almost insignificant. “Few” shows that the quantity of the item is small and can't be useful for its purpose. In a nutshell, "few" conveys dissatisfaction and a negative idea.

On its part, “a few” refers to a significant number which can be used for a purpose. When a speaker makes use of "a few" before an item, he/she tries to show that such item can adequately serve its purpose although its quantity is small. For example, a student who has a small quantity of books can say "I have a few books" if he/she knows that the books are enough for passing his/her exams. "A few" conveys satisfaction and a positive idea.

Sentence examples
1. Few were present. (Not many at all)

2. A few persons were present. (Not many, but can serve the purpose)

3. I have few shirts. (Not many at all)

4. I have a few shirts. (Not many, but enough for the necessary outings)

Referring to all "unmarried woman" as "spinsters" is a sheer display of ignorance! See reasons

Unlike what it means to the native speakers of English, in Nigeria, the word "spinster" means nothing other than an "unmarried woman", regardless of her age. That's why a young girl in her 20s never finds it offensive when called a spinster. You dare not try this with a native speaker. Asking why? The reason is simple.

In modern English usage, the word "spinster" is considered pejorative. It cannot be used to mean simply a "single woman". It is now a derogatory term, referring to an older, childless woman who has never been married and seems unlikely ever to get married. Put differently, it is a term solely reserved for women who are still unmarried and childless by the time they reach or are approaching menopause. It is synonymous to the word old maid
Referring to all "unmarried woman" as "spinsters" is a sheer display of ignorance! See reasons

Therefore, it is totally wrong and unacceptable to call a young woman in her 20s, 30s or perhaps even early 40s a spinster.
Merriam Webster Dictionary

Oxford Dictionary

I can read your mind. You are asking, "What then is the right word?" Well, although American English uses "bachelorette" or "bachelor girl", "single" or "single woman" appears to be the preferred term across all native English varieties.

Hope you are now know when to use this word? Make your language beautiful by practising what you've read on this blog.

See why you should write "Happy birthday, Tammy" and not "Happy birthday Tammy"

One of the features of language is that it is systematic, that is, it follows an organised pattern hence shouldn't be written or spoken haphazardly. On no account should this unique feature of language be traded for anything, not even the uneducated writing system of social media users. It is quite unfortunate that so many persons have welcomed their reckless attitudes to the home of language. Nobody seems to be cautious of his/her writing. In fact, we are now at a point where everybody wants to speak the English language without learning it. If you are one of such persons, you will keep on writing "happy birthday Tammy" instead of "happy birthday, Tammy".
See why you should write "Happy birthday, Tammy" and not  "Happy birthday Tammy"

You will never know the importance of the comma preceding the noun (Tammy) until you get the full gist. So, stay calm but inquisitive as I take you on this educative journey. Remember, knowledge is power!

The expressions, "happy birthday, Tammy" and "happy birthday Tammy", are examples of what is called a direct address in grammar, but only one seems to be very correct. A direct address is a sentence in which a speaker communicates a message to another individual. By rule, the name of the individual who is addressed is set off by a comma. Omitting a comma in a direct address is a sheer display of one's incompetence in the language. Therefore, the correct expression should be “Happy birthday, Tammy".

Other examples are "Good morning, mom"; "You are welcome, sir"; "I love you, bro"; "I hate it, man"; "Thanks, man" etc. The rule is the same even if the noun or pronoun that is being addressed appears at the beginning or middle of the sentence. For example, "Mom, how was your day?"

The major reason grammarians disapprove the omission of comma in a direct address is that it can cause semantic misinterpretation. Now check out the sentences below.
  • I love her, mom.
  • I love her mom.
Did you spot any difference?

Meet the word that best describes those who hate Mondays

Will people ever celebrate Mondays the way they celebrate Fridays? I doubt! It's another Monday where workers and students put on sad faces and angry looks for reason best known to them. You won't hear it from me. LOL! The truth is that almost every person seems to dislike Mondays. If you are among these persons, I have a word that best describes you. The word is lunaediesophobia, and it means an "abnormal fear or extreme dislike of Mondays. It is the correct term for describing people who hate Mondays.
Meet the word that best describes those who hate Mondays

For now, Lunaediesophobia (also known as Monday Phobia) is only available in some online dictionaries so you might not see it in your printed or electronic dictionary. Well, while we patiently anticipate a word that describes those who love Fridays, you can make your Monday exciting by looking at these hilarious tweets below.
LOL! Will you?
Test and see. LOL!

Pot calling kettle black. Hehehehehe!

Behold the almighty letter. This boy must be super intelligent. LOL!

The difference between "on my mind" and "in my mind"

Oftentimes, most English users make use of these phrases wrongly or interchangeably because they are less concerned about finding out the dichotomies that exist between them. In fact, it takes only an English user who is interested in perfecting his/her grammar to ask questions on the subject matter. One of the most frequently asked questions is "between 'on my mind' and 'in my mind', which is grammatically correct?" Has this also been your question? If yes, kindly stay calm as we sail together.

The difference between "on my mind" and "in my mind"

In determining the correctness of these phrases, context comes into play. Put differently, "on my mind" and "in my mind" are both correct depending on the context. "On my mind" means something is bothering you. For example, "The plight of the widows is on my mind."

On the other hand, "in my mind" means something resides in your imagination.
  • How could you have imagined such a thing in your mind?
  • I have a picture in my mind of a perfect world.

If that's the case, does it mean Mark Zuckerberg wants to know what's bothering Facebook users by asking "What is on your mind" on their walls? Well, going by the explanation above, I think it is high time Mark Zuckerberg changed the question to "What's on/in your mind" because Facebook users post what bother them and what reside in their imagination.

Did you know you can say "congratulations on" or "congratulations for"? See when and why

If you are among those who are interested in learning correct English grammar, you must have come across different English articles proposing that you don't say "congratulations for" but "congratulations on". I could remember supporting such claim in one my articles titled, the DOs and DONTs for great English presentation. However, it seems language has, once again, proven to be dynamic. In other words, the long-time claim that "congratulations" only collocates with "on" no longer holds water as all modern English dictionaries and usage guides now say "congratulations" collocates with both "on" and "for" depending on the meaning you want to convey. This validates the popular biblical axiom, "...old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). So when is it proper to use either of these expressions?
Did you know you can say "congratulations on" or "congratulations for"? See when and why

When and How To Use "Congratulations on" and "Congratulations for"

You use "congratulations on" when you want to send good wishes or expressions of joy to someone on the occasion of an important event in the life of that person. It could be marriage, convocation, birthday, promotion at work, birth of a child etc.
1. Congratulations on your marriage!

2. Congratulations on your convocation!

On the other hand, you use "congratulations for" when you want to acknowledge an achievement or praise someone for a great effort.
1. Congratulations for paying workers’ salaries promptly!

2. Congratulations for leading the children to safety!

"Congratulations" can also be used with the preposition "to" when it is offered to someone. In this case, the verb, "offered", immediately precedes the word, "congratulations", as in:

The CEO of Tammys English Blog offered congratulations to all his blog readers.

Lest I forget, it is important to state that "congratulations" can be used by itself. This is a very common practice as people always use "congratulations" without attaching any of the aforementioned prepositions to it, e.g., congratulations!

In sum, the use of "congratulations for" or "congratulations on" solely depends on the context or the meaning the speaker wants to convey. There is nothing wrong in saying "congratulations for" if used in the right context.