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English in Twos: Episode 25

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:

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ─J.K Rowling

Explanation: J.K. Rowling  (1965— {55}), is a British writer and philanthropist. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series, which has won multiple awards and sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling book series in history. What Rowling said is actually self-explanatory!

“The internet has been a boon and curse for teenagers.” –J.K. Rowling

Explanation: This is self-explanatory, too!

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.

Out of the frying pan into the fire

Meaning:  said when you move from a bad or difficult situation to one that is worse, e.g. To rush into such a tax would be to go out of the frying pan into the fire.

          You can’t keep a good man down

Meaning: said to mean that if people are able and determined, they will recover from any difficulties or problems and be successful.

Note: You can replace `man’ with `woman’ or with another word referring to a person.(Zakaran da Allah ya nufa da cara… 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: You should just voice out your opinion.

Correct: You should just voice your opinion.

Note: Here, “voice” as a verb, means to tell people your opinions or feelings about a particular subject. It’s wrong to use the “out” after “voice”!

Incorrect: Should in case you see Isa, please tell him to wait for me.

Correct: If/should you see Isa, tell him to wait for me.

 Note: It is wrong to use “in case” after “should”. We use “in case” as a way of being safe from something that might happen or might be true, e.g. Take an umbrella, in case it rains.

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:

Just get off my case, please!

When you tell someone to “get off your case”, you tell them to stop criticizing you or complaining about you.

*She wants to put him to the back of her mind.

If you put/get somebody/something out of your mind/to the back of your mind, you stop yourself thinking about someone or something.

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester

  • Keep an eye on your punctuation, as it can totally change what you are trying to say. Check out the difference in meaning between these sentences: “A woman without her man is nothing” and “A woman: without her, man is nothing”.
  • Listen to English songs and sing along with them to improve fluency and intonation.

Thanks copiously for reading and remember ─ practice is key!

Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje


bashjam90@gmail.com Twitter: @Mrbashjam


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