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English in Twos: Episode 21

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 four segments: quotations and their explanation, proverbs and their meanings, correct and incorrect English, 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.

“Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.”─Johann Wolfgang

Explanation: Johann Wolfgang (1749─1832}, was a German writer and statesman. His works include: four novels; epic and lyric poetry; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; and treatises on botany, anatomy ,and colour. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him have survived. He is considered the greatest German literary figure of the modern era. Encouragement can do wonders for our outlook in life. It helps us push through the bad times, and we should never underestimate the power of positive words. One doesn’t always need to criticize others to be recognized or respected. Know that, words of encouragement work like energy pills. They can give us the strength we need to overcome the obstacles that lay between us and our objectives. That, there is someone who believes in us is like a light at the end of the tunnel. Challenges can make us physically and emotionally drained, but the right words revitalize us!

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” –Johann Wolfgang

Explanation: well, this is self-explanatory and says a lot about the previous quote.

Proverbs and Their Meanings

There is a proverb for almost any situation. It is a wise saying that gives some advice about life.

If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.

Meaning: You cannot rely on other people to do things properly for you. (Zuwa/yi da kai ya fi saƙo…or something like that in Hausa).

Note: Sometimes ‘right’ is used instead of ‘well’.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

Meaning: used as a way to tell someone that they should either stop complaining about a difficult or unpleasant activity, or stop doing it(Fadan da ya fi karfinka…in Hausa).

Correct and Incorrect English

We all make mistakes when we are speaking or writing English as a Second Language, along the way. Of course, it is inevitable. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes so you become a more confident, capable speaker and writer. Here are some mistakes that should be avoided:

Incorrect:  How did you squeeze your shirt?

Correct: How did you crease your shirt?

Note: “squeeze” as a verb means to press something firmly together with your fingers or hand, especially to get liquid from it. As in: “he is trying to squeeze the toothpaste out.” But “crease” means, to make a line appear on  cloth, paper etc by folding or crushing it. As in: “don’t sit on my shirt. You’ll crease it!”

Incorrect: If you ask me, the knife is not enough sharp.

Correct: If you ask me, the knife is not sharp enough.

Note: “Enough” comes after adverbs and adjectives, never before them. But it comes before nouns, e.g. They don’t have enough evidence to have him arrested. Know that, the word ‘evidence’ here, is a noun.

Words and Their Meanings and Examples in Sentences

Words are of paramount importance to our lives.  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.


To make someone believe something that is not true, by using force, confusing them, or continuously repeating it over a long period of time, e.g  Don’t allow the seller to brainwash you into buying things you don’t need.

Conundrum/ka ‘nandram/

A confusing and difficult problem, e.g Don’t ever let the conundrum stop you from achieving your goals.

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester

  •  Think in English to improve your fluency.
  •  Talk to yourself…but not in public otherwise people would think you have gone crazy.

A big thank-you for reading and remember ─ practice is key!

Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje

08168757065 Twitter: @Mrbashjam


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