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English in Twos: Episode 17

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:

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” ─Leo Tolstoy

Explanation: Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910), was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received multiple nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906 and nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1910, and that he never won is a major controversy. Well, Patience makes us better people. In this modern age, most of us have forgotten to be patient and get irritated very quickly over minor things like a baby crying, traffic jam and such things. Verily, patience is a virtue that everybody must possess in life. Time and patience play a significant role in our lives. If we better understand their value, then  we can gain experience and develop skills over time.

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”– Leo Tolstoy

Explanation: I read it somewhere, that perfectionists usually make a task appear more complex than it actually is and thus get intimidated. Their unrealistic expectations about the end results could even make the task appear impossible to achieve. They are likely to put off tackling tasks and projects because they are waiting for the right context, time and solution. As a result, they end up spending too much time on a single project, thus resulting in low productivity.

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.

        A bird in the hand(is worth two in the bush)

Meaning: used to say it’s better to be content with what you have than to risk losing everything by seeking to get more (Something like, kwai a baka ya fi kaza a akurki in Hausa).

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Meaning: used to say in any situation, be optimistic about the result, but always be ready for the worst outcome.

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: The doctor will operate his stomach tomorrow.

Correct: The  doctor will operate on his stomach tomorrow.

Note: Doctors do not ‘operate’ a part of a person’s body. They operate on it. What’s more, it’s also incorrect to say, “The doctor will operate him for appendicitis” – but, “The doctor will operate him on for appendicitis”.

Incorrect: You have to request for permission before you go.

Correct: You have to request permission before you go.

Note: The word, “request” is a verb here – so, it is never followed by, “for”. But if it comes as a noun in other contexts, it can be followed by “for”, as in: He put in a request for leaving.

                     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:

scoot over(scoots , scooting, scooted)

To move to one side, especially in order to make room for someone or something else.

  • Can you scoot over so I could sit down?

Have off (has, having, had)

To spend time away from work, e.g. Could I have this Monday morning off?

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester

  •  For a word you don’t understand in a sentence, look at the other words around it. They will give you a hint. Try to guess the meaning from the context.
  •  Learn root words. They’ll help you guess the meaning of words.

Thank you for reading and remember ─ practice is key!

Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje

08168757065 Twitter: @Mrbashjam


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