Home   >   Comment   >   Features   >   201906









Mind Your English   
 
  << Prev  |  Next >>
 
19-Jun-2019  
Comments ( 0 )     Email    Print
       
 
 
 
 
 
Related Stories
 
Certain incorrect English expression has gained wide currency in Ghana.

The incorrect expression is ‘write an examination’ or ‘write an exam’. But this expression is unacceptable in British and American English.

Now, carefully study these two sentences from the print media: The BECE candidates have started writing their examinations. We were busily preparing to write our exams.

The two sentences are incorrect. Within the context of the sentences, examination means ‘a formal test of a person’s knowledge or proficiency in a subject or skill’. Based on this definition, the expression ‘write an examination’ doesn’t sound reasonable. ‘Examination’ cannot be written, so to speak.

The correct expression is ‘take an exam’, ‘doan exam’ or ‘sit (for) an exam’. And this is how the Oxford Dictionary (latest edition) succinctly puts it: Use take/do/sit anexamination not write an examination.

Therefore, the incorrect sentences should be corrected as follows: The BECE candidates have started taking their examinations OR The BECE candidates have started doingtheir examinations OR The BECE candidates have started sitting (for) their examinations.

We were busily preparing to take our exams OR We were busily preparing to do our exams OR We were busily preparing to sit(for) our exams.

However, it is noteworthy that the expression ‘write an examination paper’ is correct. Examples: The BECE candidates have started writing their examination papers. We were busily preparing to write our exam papers. In both sentences, ‘examination’ is being used as a modifier and it modifies the plural noun ‘papers’.

Some Transitive Verbs

Next, carefully study the following sentences: Mr Freddie Blay has contested for the national chairmanship position of the NPP. I have requested for a loan. President Akufo-Addo has advocated for electoral reforms. The headmaster stressed on the need for discipline in the school. He emphasised on his name by repeating it several times. The insurance company guaranteed for Kwame’s loan yesterday. The Minister of Education has highlighted on the importance of free education.

The seven sentences are incorrect. Some English words don’t take prepositions when they function as verbs in sentences. Classic examples are contest, request, advocate, stress, emphasise, guarantee and highlight. Being transitive verbs, they usually carry the object.

Therefore, the incorrect sentences should be corrected as follows: Mr Freddie Blay has contested the national chairmanship position of the NPP. I have requested a loan. President Akufo-Addo has advocated electoral reforms. The headmaster stressed the need for discipline in the school. He emphasised his name by repeating it several times. The insurance company guaranteed Kwame’s loan yesterday. The Minister of Education has highlighted the importance of free education.

However, when contest, request, advocate, stress, emphasise, guarantee and highlight function as nouns in sentences, they take prepositions as in the following sentences: There is a contest for the national chairmanship position of the NPP. I have made a request for a loan. President Akufo-Addo is an advocate of electoral reforms. The headmaster has laid stress on the need for discipline in the school. He laid emphasis on his name by repeating it several times. He has given a guarantee of good behaviour always. Last year was the highlight of his career.

Besides, these three verbs don’t take prepositions – comprise, behove and seek. Examples: The committee comprises five members (Not: The committee comprises of five members). However, ‘be comprised of’ is correct. Therefore, the sentence could be rewritten as: The committee is comprised of five members. It behoves students to take their studies seriously (Not: It behoves on students to take their studies seriously). John is seeking employment (Not: John is seeking for employment).

Imaginary Verbs

Next, carefully study the following sentences: It is time needy parents take advantage of the Free SHS programme. It is about time I speak with the journalist. It is high time I leave Kumasi for Accra to attend an official meeting.

The three sentences are incorrect. The idioms ‘it is time’, ‘it is about time’ and ‘it is high time’ have the same meaning. They are used to say that somebody should do something soon.

The grammatical rule is that the verbs that accompany these idioms are supposed to be in their past tense forms. They are usually regarded as imaginary verbs.

Therefore, the incorrect sentences should be corrected as follows: It is time needy parents tookadvantage of the Free SHS programme. It is about time I spoke with the journalist. It is high time I left Kumasi for Accra to attend an official meeting.

It is noteworthy that when the nouns or pronouns that precede the verbs are replaced with the word ‘to’, the verbs take their infinitive forms as in ‘it is time to take our breakfast’.

Lose Or Loose?

Last but not least, many people are totally confused with the use of these two words – LOSE and LOOSE. They write ‘loose’ when they really mean ‘lose’.

Now, let’s consider the following sentences: We can’t afford to loose our next match. You can loose weight through regular exercises. She easily looses her temper.

The use of ‘loose’ in each of the three sentences is grammatically incorrect. The correct verb is ‘lose’ and not ‘loose’. Hence, the sentences should be corrected as follows: We can’t afford to lose our next match. You can lose weight through regular exercises. She easily loses her temper.

‘Loose’ can function as an adjective or a verb in a sentence. As an adjective, ‘loose’ is the opposite of tight or contained. Example: My shoes are loose.

As a verb, ‘loose’ means to free from restraints, to unfasten, to make less tight, to loosen. Example: He looses the contacts between objects with a lubricant.

The past tense, past participle and progressive tense of this verb are ‘loosened’, ‘loosened’ and ‘loosening’, respectively.

As a verb, ‘lose’ means to cause (something) to cease to be in one’s possession or capability due to unfortunate or unknown circumstances, events or reasons; to fail to win (a game, competition, trial, etc.), to shed (weight); to reduce, etc.

The past tense, past participle and progressive tense of this verb are ‘lost’, ‘lost’ and ‘losing’, respectively.

Besides, carefully study the following sentence: Every football match produces one of these three results – win, lose or draw.

The sentence is wrong and illogical. I’ve noticed that a lot of football fans always say ‘win, lose or draw’.

The noun form of the verb ‘to lose’ is ‘loss’.  Since ‘win’ and ‘draw’ are nouns in the sentence, it’s illogical for ‘lose’ to remain as a verb. To ensure consistency and harmony, it must be in its noun form.

The sentence should, therefore, be corrected as: Every football match produces one of these three results – win, loss or draw.

The writer is a proofreader

 
 
Source: Anthony Kwadwo Kyei/[email protected]
 
 

Comments ( 0 ): Post Your Comments >>

 
 
 
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.
 
 
Featured Video