Common Errors in English

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(1) Please, be faithful to your girlfriend; don’t double date (Nonstandard).❌

Please, be faithful to your girlfriend; don’t two-time (Standard).✅

NOTE: “Double date” does not mean  “to date two persons at the same time,” it simply suggests “a social engagement that two couples partake in. Or a date in which two couples participate.” “Two time,” on the other hand, means “to deceive someone (especially a lover) by having a secret relationship with another person.” A person who does this is a *two timer.*

(2) Awn! The guy is so handsome (Nonstandard).❌

 Aw! The guy is so handsome (Standard).✅

NOTE: The word ‘awn’ used by many people in conversation means ‘bot in some grasses; beard  of barley…’ It is not romantic or surprisingly affectionate as many people believe. In fact, there are situations whereby people elongate it that we now have ‘Awnnnn’ ‘I am awning’; this is not standard.  If you want to express disappointment,  commiseration, sympathy, delight or affection, the right exclamation is ‘AW.’ You have the right to elongate it by adding only one more ‘w.’ Thus, we have ‘AWW.’ Anything apart from this is not grammatical.

(3) The movie I saw yesterday was too interesting; I really love it. (Nonstandard).❌

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The movie I saw yesterday was very interesting; I really love it. (Standard).✅

Note: ‘Too’ before adjectives and adverbs means ‘beyond’ the limit’, ‘beyond what is acceptable’; use of ‘too’ often indicates disapproval: Daniel eats too much; he could take in fifty people’s portions of food.

(4) Poverty, hardship, limitation and stubbornness__ all ‘these’ made me dislike her. (Nonstandard).❌

Poverty, hardship, limitation and stubbornness__ all ‘this’ made me dislike her (Standard).✅

Note: ‘This’ but not ‘these’ can be used as a pronoun meaning many different things. However, you could say: “all these ‘things’ made me dislike her.”

(5) Look in your mirror, there is a boy coming “at your back.”

(Nonstandard).❌

Look in your mirror, there is a boy coming “behind you.” (Standard).✅

I hate people talking about me at my back.(Nonstandard).❌

I hate people talking about me behind my back (Standard).✅

Note: The ‘back’ of something is still part of that thing; so, the use of ‘at the back’ is wrong in the above examples.

(6) Madu  is a very dirty somebody; I can’t date him.

(Nonstandard).❌

Madu is a very dirty person; I can’t date him. (Standard).✅

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Note: In general, determiners (e.g ‘a’) cannot be used often before pronouns ( e.g ‘somebody’). Use a noun instead of a pronoun after a determiner.

(7) I don’t have shoes, but, ‘for’ the ‘maintime’, I will make use of flip-flops.

(Nonstandard).❌

I don’t have shoes, but, *in* the ‘meantime’, I will make use of flip-flops. (Standard).✅

Note: ‘Meantime’ means ‘ the time or period in between the intervening time.’ There is nothing like ‘maintime’ in English language. Also, the prepostion “in” should be used and not “for.” 

(8) I will learn the definition with heart. (Nonstandard).❌

 I will learn the definition by heart. (Standard).✅

Note: You learn something ‘by heart’ which idiomatically means ‘learning something completely and retaining it to the memory’, and then you recite it ‘off hand’ not ‘off head.’ ‘Off Hand’ has two meanings: it can either mean ‘without preparation, previous thought or thinking ahead.’ As in: “Bola told the man’s story off hand.” In this case, ‘off hand’ is functioning as an adverb. Also, ‘off hand’ can mean ‘ careless, ungracious, rude, impolite, terse, mannerless’ etc. As in,  “John was offhand with with his mother this morning.”  “Don’t be offhand with those who are older than you.” .Here, ‘Offhand’ is functioning as an adjective with a very different meaning. ‘Off head’ is synonymous with being “crazy, insane or strange.”

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(9) The river has flown over its banks. (Nonstandard).❌

The river has flowed over its banks. (Standard).✅

NOTE: ‘Flown’ is the past participle of ‘fly’, the past participle of *flow* (= to move as water) is flowed. The principal parts of the two verbs are: fly, flew, flown___ “flow, flowed, flowed.”

(10) Fireboy is no longer an upcoming artiste (Nonstandard).❌

Fireboy is no longer an up-and-coming artiste (Standard).✅

NOTE: “Up-and-coming” means “beginning to become successful or well known.” ‘Upcoming’, on the other hand, means “happening or occurring in the relatively near future.” As in: The upcoming election will be tough.✅

(11) My mother made ‘Eba’ with a turning stick (Nonstandard).❌

My mother made ‘Eba’ with a wooden spoon (Standard).✅

NOTE: “The wooden spoon, also known as ‘wooden spatula,’ is “a spoon made from wood which has a flat surface and used for turning or stirring food.” “Turning stick” is just a coinage.

¬©United Reporter’s Blog

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