By Joseph M. Mumbe
Have you ever been belittled in public especially when it has to do with broken grammar?
There may be laughter among the audience but if they respect you, they will respond non-verbally in disgust by half closing the eyes as if they are taking a photo, otherwise, some can openly correct you.
We were close to 200 professionals when I was embarrassed while responding to a research report presented by the then Principal of Shimon PTC Mr. Higwira. I was corrected in a common grammatical error that many would ignore. To be honest, I did not only forget the last word I had spoken but also the next word I was to speak. I was speechless for a couple of seconds amidst laughter from audience. I then shouted “Thank you Sir, however…….,” in order to partly regain attention of the audience.
Since then, I polished on my grammar. Better is open rebuke than hidden love (Proverbs 27:5). You too, can accept correction and improve. Common mistakes occur:
- When unfamiliar words are used
- When prepositions are misplaced
- When tenses of subsequent verbs are not known
- When grammatical rules for structures and phrases are not followed.
Enjoy this first set:
- Wrong: Do not dirten your shirt. Right: Do not dirt your shirt.
Why? “dirten” is not a verb in English.
- Wrong: Make sure you smoothen the tables. Right: Make sure you smooth the tables.
Why: Smoothen is outdated, not for use in 21st Century.
- Wrong: You have a long trouser! Right: You have long trousers!
Why? Trousers remain plural and in pairs like scissors or a pair of….
- Wrong: Mistakes are human. Right: Mistakes are to humans.
Why? Mistakes don’t have human features; they are for humans.
- Wrong: On addition to tomatoes, also buy onions. Right: In addition to tomatoes, also buy onions.
- Wrong: You and me will face it rough. Right: You and I will face it rough.
- Wrong: How is you today? Right: How are you today?
Why? You is always plural personal pronoun, always used with plural verb.
- Wrong: The teacher told him to lie down so he laid down. Right: The teacher told him to le down so he lay down.
Why? Past form of lie as on horizontally positioning the body; resting, is “lay.”
- Wrong: One of our teacher is absent. Right: One of our teachers is absent.
Why? Expression is from plural, “many teachers but only one of them” so plural helping verb follows e.g., are, were, have etc.
- Wrong: Please John, borrow me some money. Right: Please John, lend me some money.
Why? the giver is a lender while the taker is the borrower and borrows from…
- Wrong: Patrick, your funny! Right: Patrick, you’re funny!
Why? ‘Your’ is possessive pronoun and not applicable. ‘You’re’ is short form of ‘You are.’
Dad: Thank you so much. Son: Your welcome. You’re welcome.
The author is Theologian and Educator
Based at Calvary Chapel Christian School- Entebbe
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