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English in Twos (2)

by Bashir Jammaje

Education is the most powerful weapon, Nelson Mandela says, which we can use to change the world.
This article helps and inspires students to improve their English and encourage their interest in achieving their goals without needing to go off the course syllabus, however strict it might be. It is divided into five segments: quotations and their explanation, proverbs and their meanings, correct and incorrect English, vocabulary learning and some tips to improve your English. All the segments are presented in twos.

Quotations and Their Explanation
Life without motivation is like sitting in a dark room with lots of fear inside. Here are two quotes that can motivate you in life:
“Language is the key to the heart of people.” ─Ahmad Deedat
Explanation: Ahmad Deedat(1918 – 2005), was a South African writer, widely known Muslim Televangelist, an Islamic preacher and the mentor of the most famous Islamic preacher Dr. Zakir Naik. He was a man of utmost wisdom and diligence in the Comparative religion. He published 20 books and distributed millions of copies free of charge. He delivered thousands of lectures all over the world and successfully held numerous inter-religious public debates with evangelical Christians. Several thousand of people came into the fold of Islam as a result of his hard work. Well, language is of paramount importance in every aspect of our lives; it allows us to communicate in a manner that enables the sharing of common ideas.
“If you don’t have ambition, you shouldn’t be alive.” –Aliko Dangote
Explanation: Aliko Dangote (1957 – [63 years]), is a Nigerian businessman and philanthropist who is the founder of Dangote Group. Avoid the rumour mill(the people who discuss something and pass rumours to one another) who say he doesn’t have a son or a daughter, Dangote was previously married, and has three daughters and one adopted son. He has an estimated net worth of US$8.3 billion (May 29, 2020), making him the 162nd wealthiest person in the world and the richest person in Africa, according to the American magazine Forbes. A successful life is one filled with ambition and action, not wishes. If one wants to achieve their goals, they should embrace their passion, follow their dreams, and let their ambition fuel them to be the best.

Proverbs and Their Meanings
There is a proverb for almost any situation. It is a wise saying that gives some advice about life. Almost every culture has its own unique proverbs. However, some proverbs exist in more than one language; people borrow them from other languages and cultures similar to theirs.
Let sleeping dogs lie
Meaning: it is used to deliberately avoid mentioning a subject, so that you don’t cause any trouble or argument (a bar kaza a cikin gashinta… in Hausa).
After a storm comes a calm
Meaning: things often improve after a difficult, chaotic or stressful time ( something like bayan wuya sai dadi in Hausa).

Correct and Incorrect English
Grammatical errors come in many forms and can easily confuse and obscure meaning. Absolutely, no one is immune to errors when it comes to the English language. Of course, it is inevitable. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes so you become a more confident, capable speaker and writer. Prepositions are tricky(difficult to deal with), confusing(unclear and difficult to understand) and significant in sentence construction. Here are some mistakes that should be avoided:
Confusion between “care about” and “care for”
Incorrect: Idi crossed the road recklessly, it seems he does not care for his life.
Correct: Idi crossed the road recklessly, it seems he does not care about his life.
Note: If you ‘care about’ something, it is precious (very special and important) to you. But if you ‘care for’ someone, for instance, you dedicate your time and offer sympathy to them.
Example: Parents are under a legal obligation to care for their children.
However, sometimes ‘care for’ is used to mean ‘like’ or to ask someone politely if they would like something.
I don’t care for milk in my tea(=don’t like).
Would you care for some cake?(bisimilla keik in Hausa.)
Remember ─ it is non-standard to say, come and eat/chop cake.
What’s more, it is standard to say, ‘help yourself to some cake’ or mention the name of what you are offering, ‘Cake?’(=would you care for some cake?).

Vocabulary Learning
There are some verbs that are used with particles. Examples are sit down, get up, go out, etc. The verbs are sit, get, go, and the particles are down, up, out. These kind of combinations are called phrasal verbs. In many cases the meaning of the phrasal verbs cannot be deduced from its elements and some are polysemous (have two or more different meanings). Moreover, phrasal verbs are very important because they are so prevalent(common) in every spoken or written English. Voltaire once said, “Language is a very difficult to put into words.” What is the best way to learn new words? Sound them out, The Seattle Time reported. Researchers found sounding words slowly helps people memorize new words easier. Here are some phrasal verbs:
Get off (gets, getting, got also gotten)
To step out of a bus, train, aircraft or boat.
I need to get off at Kura Town.
In normal speech, the preferred expression for a bus, train, plain and other public transport vehicle would be “get off” which is synonymous with the word “alight”, but “get out of” is different. We get off public transport, but we get out of a ‘personal’ car.
He wants to get off at the next bus stop.
She told her chauffeur that she wanted to get out of the car.
Warning: you can say “I’m on the bus” not “in the bus” when you’re on your way to somewhere. But “I’m in the bus” might be used to describe your location inside a bus rather than outside of it. You might use “in the bus” to help someone you were meeting at the bus station find you, for instance. And don’t say, “I want to/let me drop(off) at the next bus stop”. But the driver can say “I will drop you”, and you can tell them to “drop” you. Always remember ─ passengers can only get off/alight from a bus, train, car etc.
Pronunciation: the pronunciation of the words ‘off’, ‘of’ and ‘up’ is often confused. Verily, ‘off’ ends with [f] sound – /of/. While ‘of’ ends with [v] sound – /ov/. And ‘up’ is completely different from the two; just – /ap/.
Answer for sth (answers, answering, answered)
To be responsible for something bad, or to be punished for something bad.
Do you think parents should have to answer for their children’s behaviour?

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be confident. People can only correct your mistakes when they hear you make them.
Put yourself in an all English speaking environment where you can learn passively. The best way to learn is through speaking.

Thank you for reading and remember ─ practice is key!
Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje
Twitter: @Mrbashjam


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