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English in Twos: Episode 29

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:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ─Mahatma Gandhi

Explanation: Mahatma Gandhi (1869— 1948), was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule, and in turn inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. Gandhi points out that life is something you live to the fullness and learn throughout it. Being afraid to live and learn in life is not something a person should be doing.

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” –Mahatma Gandhi

Explanation: It’s true true that, we now live in a world obsessed with speed, with doing everything faster, with cramming more and more into less and less time. Every moment of the day feels like a race against the clock.

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.

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself

Meaning:  Don’t depend on someone else to do a good job; do it yourself(zuwa da kai…).

          Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer

Meaning: said to mean that if someone is your enemy, treat them like a friend so you can be ready if they ever try to betray you.

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: Had it been you told me yesterday, I would have included your name.

Correct: Had you told me/if you had told me yesterday, I would have included your name.

Note: Here, “had it been” can sometimes be used where there’s no other verb in the clause, e.g. Had it been me/if had been you I would not have invited him. But, it’s incorrect to use “had it been…” in conditional clause where there’s another verb in the clause(as in: ‘told’ in the above example).

A: Do you want to eat or drink something?

Incorrect: No, please.

Correct: No, thank you

 Note: “Please” can only come after, “yes”; but it cannot come after, “no” – as in: A: Do you want to have some tea? B: Yes, please!

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:

*Don’t waste your breath, you can’t explain this away.

If you “explain sth away”,  you make something seem less important or bad by giving reasons for it

*If you want to be good at it, you must put what you learn into practice.

“put something into action/effect/practice” means to start using a plan, idea, knowledge etc

Tips to Improve Your English ─ Hester

  • Use an English dictionary as it will help you to keep thinking in English not translating.
  • Ask your helpful teacher if you can record his/her lesson. This is a great way to review.

Thanks copiously for reading and remember ─ practice is key!

Bashir Shu’aibu Jammaje

08168757065

bashjam90@gmail.com Twitter: @Mrbashjam

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