Must Read! One Hundred Commonly Misused English Expressions

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Must Read! One Hundred Commonly Misused English Expression By Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose

1) He is a go getter (not, goal getter)

2) She wears lovely perfumes (not, sprays)

3) He is a godsend to me (not, godsent)

4) She has a runny nose (not, running nose)

5) I wish I can turn back the clock (not turn back the hand of time)

6) We would have to fight fire with fire (not fire for fire)

7) May our parents reap the fruits of their labour (not fruit)

8) Covenant: This is erroneously pronounced as convenant by some Christians to keep the rhythmic appeal in songs like Covenant-keeping God’

9) Expatiate: Many think this word is derived from ‘expand’; hence, expantiate

10) Augment: Because most Nigerian languages are syllable-timed, many Nigerians find it more convenient to say augument.

Read ALSO English for Today (October 12, 2018) by Ganiu Abisoye (GAB)

11) Pronunciation: This is wrongly pronounced by many as pronounciation because of the verb


12) Faithful (noun; not faithfuls): Many say faithfuls given their knowledge of plurality.

13) Uplift: (not, upliftment) People tend to naturally say upliftment just to make this sound like conventional nouns.

14) He is an up and coming artiste (not, upcoming).

15) Separate: Many Nigerians tend to spell this as pronounced and so they spell it as seperate.

16) Birds of a feather flock together (not, bed of the same feather fly together).

17) Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t (not, the devil you know is better than the angel you don’t know).

18) You can’t have your cake and eat it (not, you can’t eat your cake and have it).

19) What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander (not, what is good for the goose is good for the gander).

20) Make hay while the sun shines (not, make haste while the sun shines).

English for Today (October 11, 2018) by Ganiu Abisoye (GAB)

21) You mind we have a chit-chat (not, a gist)? A conversation about things that are not important is a chit-chat while gist means the most important part of something.

22) I like her looks (not, look). A person’s appearance or attractiveness is his or her looks.

23) She tried to smooth her way to get the appointment (not, smoothen). The word smooth is used as both a noun and a verb. Smoothen is only used in informal American English.

24) Sit on her lap (not, laps). The upper legs of a seated person are called lap.

25) She needs a travel bag (not, travelling bag). However, travelling bag is allowed in informal language settings and in other varieties of English, but not in Standard British English.

26) I called you several times (not, severally). Severally means separately or individually; not many/several times.

27) Don’t fight a losing battle (not, a lost battle). A struggle that seems certain to end in failure is a losing battle

28) My townsperson (not, town person).

29) My tribesman (not, tribe man).

30) Speak in tongues (not, in tongue).

English for Today (October 10, 2018) by Ganiu Abisoye (GAB)

31) He lacks manners (not, manner).

32) She likes to wear tights (not, tight).

33) Thank your stars (not, star).

34) You take sides on an issue (not, side).

35) The place is out of bounds (not, bound).

36) Couples take marriage vows (not, vow).

37) You pay a dead person respects (not, respect).

38) He has knock knees (not, k-leg). A condition in which the legs curve inwards so that the feet are apart when the knees are touching is called knock knees. This is also called genu valgum. We can also say: He’s knock-kneed.

39) Good afternoon, my fellow students (not, colleagues). A colleague is a fellow member of a profession so students don’t have colleagues since they are not workers.

40) I will see you when I come (not if I come back). To say “if I come” is to doubt your coming.

41) Level playing field (not, ground).

42) To keep up appearances (not, put up).

43) It takes two to tango (not, tangle).

44) I rack my brain always (not, crack).

45) Without mincing words (not, missing).

46) The first ten persons will be rewarded (not, the ten first). When using numerals, ordinals (first, second, third) come before cardinals (one, two, three).

47) He is as unique as she (not, more unique). Just as a person can’t be “more dead” or “more alive” than another, no one can be more unique than another.

48) You know full well that you shouldn’t be here (not, fully well).

49) A word to the wise is enough (not, A word is enough for the wise). The expression is an idiom and it has a fixed form.

50) That was a slip of the tongue (not, slip of tongue). The expression is not complete without the definite article “the”.

51) We told her about the danger yet she went ahead (not, still yet). One can use either of “still” or “yet” but both can’t be used.

52) You should take balanced diet (not, balance diet).

53) The students are not much (wrong). The students are not many (right).

54) We caught a machinery (wrong). We caught a mercenary (right).

55) This boy is lousy (wrong; except if you mean he’s bad). This boy is noisy (right).

56) The times table is out (wrong; except if you mean multiplication table: He’s the fastest at times table). The timetable is out (right).

57) Where is the mate of my pair of shoes (not, the second leg of my pair of shoes). The other member of a matched pair of objects is called a mate.

58) She was my wife’s bridesmaid (not, best lady).

59) The product is now on sale (not, The product is now in the market).

60) Don’t rub salt into my wound (not, Don’t pour salt into my wound).

61) I saw a 20 year old lawyer (not, 20 years old lawyer). A noun that qualifies another is not used in the plural form and year qualifies lawyer in the sentence. However, you can say: The lawyer is 20 years old.

62) He’s a member of staff (not, a staff). All of the employees of an organisation make up the staff so an individual can’t be a staff.

63) I am Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose (not, Bamgbose Ganiu Abisoye). When arranging one’s name, the surname comes last. However, if you write the surname first, it has to be separated by a comma: Bamgbose, Ganiu Abisoye.

64) We had guests from all walks of life (not, works of life).

65) He is stocky (not, lanky). Many erroneously think to be broad and sturdily built is to be lanky, whereas to be lanky is to be ungracefully thin.

66) We are lagging behind (not, lacking behind).

67) I will pay your fare (not transport fare). Fare means money paid for a transport ticket so the word “transport” is redundant.

68) He is talkative (not he is a talkative).

69) He was in jeans and polo (not he was on jeans and polo).

70) Shed light on it (not shed more light on it).

71) I’ll pay you at the end of the month (not I’ll pay you by month end).

72) She has a secure job (not, secured). When a person or thing is free from attack, danger or is protected, the adjective is “secure”. The word can however attract the past tense marker when used as a verb: She has secured a job.

73) The boy is not mature (not, matured). To be fully grown up is to be mature. This too can be used as a verb: The boy has matured.

74) He is overage (not, overaged). Having an age that is greater than a stipulated minimum is to be overage.

75) Scarcely… when: Scarcely had I parked my car when it started raining.

76) Hardly… when: Hardly had she woken up when she began to cry for breakfast.

77) No sooner… than: No sooner had we started the meeting than Uche began to argue with the secretary.

78) Prefer… to: She prefers engineering to medicine.

79) One… one: One shouldn’t make a promise if one won’t be able to fulfill it.

80) Don’t take it personally (not, personal).

81) A problem shared is a problem halved (not a problem shared is half solved)

82) She is mediocre (not, a mediocre). The word is an adjective; not a noun.

83) The politician defected (not, decamped).

84) In conclusion, knowing grammar is knowing a language (not conclusively).

85) I got stuck (not, stucked).

86) Between you and me (not, between you and I).

87) Funnily enough I didn’t see him (not, funny enough).

88) Joking apart, every Nigerian needs these lessons (not, jokes apart).

89) I’m planning to do something along the same lines (not, along the same line).

90) Are you sure he’s not two-timing you (not, double dating)? To deceive or be unfaithful to a lover is to two-time.

91) The couples will be double dating tomorrow (not, going out together). When two couples (four persons in all) go out on a romantic or dinner date together, they double date.

92) Happy Independence Day (not, Independent Day). This also applies to the names of centres such as: Distance Learning Centre (not, Distant Learning Centre).

93) He is a lout (not, a tout). When we mean a rude violent person, a hooligan or a thug, we say a lout. A tout is someone advertising for customers in an aggressive way.

94) I saw a one-eyed beggar (not, one eye beggar). To have the sight of only one eye is to be one-eyed.

95) Nigerian politics is in a shambles (not, a shamble).

96) She passed with flying colours (not, in flying colour).

97) He who pays the piper calls the tune (not, dictates the tune).

98) We’ve been friends for donkey’s years (not, donkey years).

99) Her house is a stone’s throw from mine (not, stone throw).

100) He is speeding (not, over speeding). To speed is to drive faster than the legal limit so the use of “over” is redundant

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