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English in Twos: Episode 9

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:
Resentment and anger are bad for your blood pressure and your digestion.” ─Desmond Tutu
Explanation: Desmond Tutu ( born on the 7th of October 1931{88}), is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He has been active in the defence of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. Well, studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and stress. As you release the anger, resentment and hostility, you begin to feel empathy, compassion and sometimes even affection for the person who wronged. And people who hang on to grudges, however, are more likely to experience severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as other health condition. But that doesn’t mean they can’t change or train themselves to act in healthier way.
When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had land. They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had land.” –Desmond Tutu
Explanation: this is quite self-explanatory!

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.
Cleanliness is the next to the godliness
Meaning: It’s good to be clean. God is clean and you should be too (=zafta cikon addini in Hausa), e.g. I have to take a shower before I go. You know, they say, cleanliness is the next to the godliness.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
Meaning: used to say that a child usually has a similar character or similar qualities to their parents (Barewa ba ta gudu danta ya yi rarrafe 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:
Incorrect: I think you should reply his message today.
Correct: I think you should reply to his message today.
Note: “reply”, here is typically ‘intransitive verb’, which means it does not take a direct object. In everyday English, some people say “answer”, as in, he didn’t reply to my question. He didn’t answer my question. By and large, “reply” can also be used as a transitive verb, but that’s more specialised use as in dialogue: “I didn’t know,” he replied with a wide smile.
Incorrect: His mother died because of cancer.
Correct: His mother died of cancer.
Note: “of” should be used to indicate the physical cause of the death. Confused? You can say, he died ‘of’ AIDS, hunger, curiosity, a heart attack, broken heart…
What’s more, you can use, “die from”, when you are referring to an indirect cause. As in, he died “from” drinking poison, smoking, injury, a car accident, snake bite, war…
Still confused? Just remember – “of” refers to “possession” and “from” refers to “origin”. And put this in mind, the use of “die of” and “die from” isn’t exclusive. It depends on the causes or nature of the death.

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 expression:
* You should send it in black and white(=in writing or print).
* He said that my idea would not hold water.
If an excuse, a statement etc. does not hold water, it does not seem to be true or reasonable.

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester
* Create an atmosphere in which you want to learn, not because you have to. You’ll learn more when you’re learning because you want to.
* Give yourself short term goals too and reward yourself when you achieve each one.

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


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