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English in Twos: Episode 20

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 moment you start comparing your life with others is the start of your downfall. You’ll lose your peace and sense of gratitude. Thank the Almighty.” ─Mufti Ismail Menk

Explanation:   Ismail ibn Musa Menk , also known as Mufti Menk (born 27 June 1975), is a Muslim cleric from Zimbabwe.  Head of the country’s fatwa department, Menk has been identified as a Salafi. Well, I got this somewhere, that if you want to compare you with anyone, just look at the person who you are going to compare with. See if he/she is with your same age group, same education qualifications, same family background, same nation, same skills, same appearance, same productivity, same experience, same speed and many more etc. After seeing all these, If he/she is 100% same as you, You can just compare yourself with them. I believe that, there will be no anyone like that. Keep faith on you and trust yourself, Because you are the best motivator for yourself.

“Insulting others is never a way of correcting them. Instead, it causes more damage and proves that we need help ourselves.” –Mufti Ismail Menk

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.

             What goes around comes around

Possible meaning: It’s said to mean that people’s actions will eventually have consequences which they will have to deal with, even though this may not happen for a long time (= Komai nisan jifa… or something similar to that in Hausa).

If you play with fire, you’ll get burned

Meaning: used to say that if you fool around with something that is potentially dangerous, you must expect to get harmed.

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: He is marrying 4 wives.

Correct: He has 4 wives.

Note: “ The active continuous forms of “marry”, isn’t  used to mean, “be married to” or “have taken in marriage”. The active continuous forms can only be used to describe the action of the person who performs the rite of marriage for the two parties concerned, e.g The Imam is marrying 4 separate couples today.

What’s more, the passive forms of “marry” are really common, e.g We have been married for thirty years. Isa is married to a woman ten years his senior.

Incorrect:  The bench is covered with chalks/many chalks.

Correct: The bench is covered with pieces of chalk/a lot of chalk.

Note: “chalks” is correct if it means “different colours/types of chalk”.

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:

  • I am no friend of music.

If you are “no friend of sth”,  you don’t like or support that thing.

  • The new student is a rotten apple.

“A rotten apple” means, one bad person who has a bad effect on all the others in a group.

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester

  •  Use English whenever you can or when you get a chance. It’s as simple as that.
  • Don’t translate into English from your own language.

Thanks copiously for reading and remember ─ practice is key!

Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje



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