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... Or 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 ever use "severally" to mean "several times" because both words are semantically different. Whereas ‘several times means ‘many times’, ‘severally means ‘individually’ or ‘separately’.

5. 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 or more words. 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...", not otherwise.

6. 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’, not ‘is’.

7. When travelling by bus, Say: I'm on the bus. Don't Say: I'm in the bus. Click here to read the reason.

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

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

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

Reason: Your brain is not a wall.

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

Reason: The use of ‘repeat’ and ‘again’ makes the sentence somewhat tautological.

11. Don't say: The book comprises of three chapters. Say: The book comprises three chapters. Or 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 as a result 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.

12. 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.

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

Reason: One of the definitions of letterhead is ‘a paper marked with letterhead.’ Therefore, adding ‘paper’ to the word ‘letterhead’ is a needless repetition.

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

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

15. 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.

16. 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".

17. The principal invited my friend and ...... to his office.
(a) I (correct)
(b) Me (wrong)

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’ and ‘me’.  It can only replace ‘my friend’ and ‘I’.

You can also get the right pronoun to use by looking 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!

Tamuno Reuben

Those who seek knowledge seek power because the pen is mightier than the sword.


  1. You are doing great job. Kudos

  2. Great job.Would like to get your direct contact

  3. Wow! Greatly impressed to read this article. Permission to share

  4. Thank you very much for your sharing. I find it very useful. However, I wonder if there is a typo in No.17. Should it be (a) I (wrong) whereas (b) me (correct)?

    1. I agree with you. The principal invited my friend and me to the office. There seems to be a typo in their answer.

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