Five stub­born com­mon English er­rors

The Manica Post - - Education / Entertainment - Mor­ris Mtisi

I CALL them stub­born be­cause they refuse to go. We hear them ev­ery­where, in the bank, queues, on the bus, ra­dio and tele­vi­sion, at home when we are relaxed and en­joy­ing fam­ily com­mu­nion, watch­ing TV, in pub­lic speeches and de­bates and other pre­sen­ta­tions. We see these er­rors in news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines and ev­ery­where! We come across them in pupils’ and stu­dents’ es­says and cre­ative writ­ing items like letters, re­ports, com­po­si­tions — the list is very long.

Re­mem­ber with ra­dio les­sons, what you con­sider to be rep­e­ti­tion is ac­tu­ally re­vi­sion or re­in­force­ment to oth­ers.

In fact, to hun­dreds oth­ers what may be old and fa­mil­iar to you, is new to hun­dreds more.

Ex­perts say a habit gets into your blood­stream or be­comes part of your DNA af­ter 21 cor­rect rep­e­ti­tions.

The five stub­born er­rors

The truck driver was over­spend­ing. That was the rea­son why the lorry veered off the road, hit a huge tree and over­turned. Can you iden­tify the two com­mon er­rors in those two state­ments? Of course driv­ers never over-speed. They speed. Speed­ing is al­ready be­yond speed lim­its. It is al­ready dan­ger­ous. The truck driver was speed­ing. You have al­ready said it all.

“That was the rea­son the lorry veered off the road...” Not ‘the rea­son why! Use one of these (rea­son /why) but not both in one state­ment. If you do you are re­peat­ing your­self. ‘The rea­son...’ means ‘why’. So you say ‘That was why . . .’ or ‘that was the rea­son . . .’

The fol­low­ing er­ror is no­to­ri­ously com­mon in writ­ing. You can­not iden­tify it in speech. Ev­ery day as two separate words and Ev­ery­day as one word. Both are cor­rect but many stu­dents do not know the dif­fer­ence. Ev­ery day refers to each day of the week. Ev­ery­day is used as an ad­jec­tive qual­i­fy­ing a noun im­me­di­ately af­ter it. It had be­come an ev­ery­day habit or joke or task or song or prayer etc. So long as you are de­scrib­ing or qual­i­fy­ing a noun, you used one word (ev­ery­day). I meet her ev­ery day (cor­rect). I meet her ev­ery­day (wrong). It had be­come an ev­ery day prayer (wrong). It had be­come an ev­ery­day prayer (cor­rect).

He was sup­posed to be op­er­ated. (wrong). He was sup­posed to be op­er­ated on (cor­rect). We op­er­ate ma­chines. Doc­tors op­er­ate on pa­tients.

I am 45 years (wrong). I am 45 (cor­rect) or ‘I am 45 years old’ (cor­rect). I am 45 years of age (sort of rare, but cor­rect). But please never say or write, “She was 19 years’’. Why not? Be­cause it is not an English ex­pres­sion. Sim­ple! If you lis­ten care­fully to what you are say­ing, your ears will tell you ‘some­thing is wrong’ or ‘that’s not ex­actly what you want to say’. Enough for this week! That is your dosage of stub­born com­mon er­rors in English. Tune in to The Ra­dio Teacher ev­ery Thurs­day night on Di­a­mond FM Ra­dio at 21:30hrs for more. Your lan­guage power or com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills will never be the same. Avoid em­bar­rass­ing er­rors in your ev­ery­day com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

They can se­ri­ously dent your im­age and rep­u­ta­tion—even what peo­ple think about you. Is that nec­es­sary? For stu­dents, please lis­ten! All your ex­am­i­na­tion an­swers in all ar­eas of learn­ing heav­ily de­pend on your com­mand of English lan­guage ex­cept in­dige­nous lan­guages learn­ing.

Poor English lan­guage com­pro­mises your grade even if the marker tries all he or she can to shut the gram­mar eye. You can­not claim to be ed­u­cated, eru­dite, learned, in­tel­lec­tual, well-read and aca­demic, if your English lan­guage is suf­fer­ing from com­mon er­rors every­body else has learnt to avoid.

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