Happy New Year! Since today is such a special day, it will be unfair to bother you with any difficult topic. Indeed, if not for the fact that journalism doesn’t rest, today is supposed to be a work-free day for all of us. In which other school would you find any teacher and students in class today, if not in the Punch English Class? Don’t mind us, media people don’t sleep. I must commend you all for sustaining interest in the class. I appreciate your regular words of encouragement too. Throughout last year, we were together. The same thing in 2017 and the second half of 2016 when the class came on stream. I note that there are a good number of us who have not only been present in the class since inception but have also consistently attempted the homework we always give. In this category, again, are some people who have always – and I mean always – got all the answers right. Just imagine: I have given out some 300 questions as homework since the Time* we started and such people have attempted all and got all right! Don’t they deserve medals? It is a pity I don’t know their addresses. Otherwise, I would have sent some Christmas/New Year packages to them. Anyway, another of such festive season will soon come. In fulfilment of my promise to make today’s lesson light, I will simply draw your attention to five grammatical errors I want you to say ‘Bye-bye’ to this year. Interestingly, they are mostly what we have treated. But because old errors die hard, it is good we revisit them this first day of the chaste year.
- I had the priviledge of meeting Governor Fayemi yesterday.
What is wrong with this statement? Any regular member of this class should be able to establish the error in it. Just one error! The noun, privilege has no d in it, although many people erroneously inject the consonant into it. So, you must master the right spelling: I hope I will be priviledged to meet President Buhari this year. (Wrong) I hope I will be privileged to meet President Buhari this year. (Correct) In this wise, you should also watch the spellings of some of the other knotty words we have treated: embarrass, accommodate, pronunciation, resurrection, commission, omission, harass, lieutenant, colonel and February.
- This room is out of bound
This expression also flaunts a fault that we once discussed in this class. If you remember, we noted that although the notice usually appears like this in many offices, the statement is wrong because ‘bound’ should take an ‘s’ in the context: Staff only. Out of bound to visitors. (Wrong) Staff only. Out of bounds to visitors. (Correct) Other words that are usually denied ‘s’ – which you should always add – include whereabouts, crossroads, loggerheads, series and grounds in (in ‘on the grounds that’).
- Gbenga Adeyinka is a popular master of ceremony
Yes, the comedian is a popular MC. But the question is: what is the full meaning of MC? What does he do? Does he just master one ceremony and go to sleep, so that he is a ‘master of ceremony’? Or, since that is his job, he masters different ceremonies, in which case he is a ‘master of ceremonies’? By now you should have got or remembered the point I am making. It is wrong to call the programme anchor a ‘master of ceremony’ because he is a master of ceremonies’ – many ceremonies and not just one:
The programme dragged till 9pm because the master of ceremony said a lot of irrelevant things. (Wrong)
The programme dragged till 9 pm because the master of ceremonies said a lot of irrelevant things. (Correct)
- Although the government says it is doing its best, but the economy is still in bad shape.
The common problem with the statement is the inclusion of ‘but’. When you use ‘although’, nothing calls for ‘but’. The presence of still does not injure the structure, it only strengthens the contrast. However, you shouldn’t use ‘although’ and ‘but’ together as we have here. It amounts to undue repetition:
Although most of the people that came from far places said they wanted to leave the same day, but things changed dramatically as the programme unfolded.(Wrong)
Although most of the people that came from far places said they wanted to leave the same day, things changed dramatically as the programme unfolded. (Correct)
- The man who slapped the policewoman is a destitute
A lot of people know the meaning of ‘destitute’ but they don’t know the grammar of it. It is one cunning word that sounds like a noun – but it is not. It is an adjective. When you thus use it as it appears in the above sentence, there is trouble. Being an adjective – like wicked, mad, cruel, legitimate or angry – it cannot normally appear alone to form a noun phrase. It has to qualify or modify a noun. So, instead of saying a person is a destitute, you say he is destitute – the way you will say he is angry, she is cruel, he is a mad man etc. After all, you won’t say ‘He is a angry’ or ‘He is a cruel’.
There are too many destitutes in the town. (Wrong)
There are too many destitute people in the town. (Correct)