Part 3 of the Special Election Edition of Editorial Conference begins with the grammatical errors in the exercise on Part 2.
- Let’s keep that information between you and I. (Top secret)
Error: Wrong pronoun. Conventionally, and in informal usage, between you and I may be acceptable, but it is grammatically incorrect. The preposition between should be followed by an objective pronoun (such as me ,her, him, us, them) and not a subjective pronoun (such as I, she, he we, they).
It would be wrong, for instance, to say:
Choose between Joan and we.
Share the money between Mark and she.
It is particularly tricky when there are two objects. The easy way to determine whether to follow between with an objective or subjective pronoun is to eliminate the first object of the sentence. E.g.
Thank you for giving my wife and I this present.
Eliminate my wife (God forbid) and what you get is:
Thank you for giving I this present. Very correct, right? Wrong!
The correct thing would be: Thank you for giving me this present.
Correction: Let’s keep that information between you and me.
- The APC won the election irregardless of what the wailers predicted. (More reason to wail)
Error: Diction: Irregardless is not an English word. It’s probably adapted from irrespective, which means regardless, nonetheless, notwithstanding, nevertheless, etc.
Correction: The APC won the election regardless of what the wailers predicted.
While we are at it, enjoy this piece by Bob Marley and the Wailers:
- The Chairman not only congratulated the president but the senators. (Of course!)
Error: Wrong correlative conjunction. Not only goes with but also.
Correction: The Chairman not only congratulated the president but also (congratulated) the senators.
- Our candidate is as good and even better than his opponent. (Are you sure?)
Error: Wrong elliptical construction. The first part of the comparison is incomplete. (Ellipsis is the deliberate omission of words/phrases that are deemed redundant to the meaning of a sentence, such as congratulate in no. 3 above)
Correction: Our candidate is as good as, and even better than his opponent.
- There party agent was not allowed into the collation centre. (Why?)
Error: Diction/Parsing. There (Adverb) used instead of Their (Pronoun)
Correction: Their party agent was not allowed into the collation centre.
- We all know where Keyamo’s interest lays. (I don’t know)
Error: Same as above. Lays is used instead of lies. Lays indicates position and always takes a direct object. E.g.
My dog lays on the couch at night.
That is where it lies (rests, reclines) at night.
NOT: My dog lies on the couch…..which could mean my dog tells lies (untruth) while on the couch.
Correction: We all know where Keyamo’s interest lies.
REMEMBER that the past tense of lie (to rest, recline) is lay and not lied.
Also, the present participle of lie (to tell an untruth) is not lieing but lying. Hence:
The Chairman is lying again. (NOT: The Chairman is lieing again).
- The opposition candidate has enough evidences to challenge the result of the election.
Error: Grammatical number. Evidence (a body of documents, material, data, etc., to prove or disprove something) is a non-count (uncountable) noun.
Correction: The opposition candidate has enough evidence to challenge the result of the election.
However, evidences can be used as a verb to indicate the act of showing proof. E.g.
The video clip of underage voters evidences (proves) irregularities in the election.
Contextually, evidences, like Englishes (American English, British English, Nigerian English), may be used to indicate different types of evidence, such as; audio recordings, documents, video clips, word-of-mouth testimonies, etc.)
- The election of credible candidates by voters are good. (Agreed!)
Error: SVA. Plural verb used to conjugate singular subject. This error commonly occurs when the subject is not a single noun but a noun phrase, and a noun in the phrase is in proximity to the conjugating verb, as in voters/are. The subject in this sentence is: The election of credible candidates by voters (Noun phrase). The verb is are. To resolve the disagreement between the subject and the verb, let’s ask the question: What is good; the election (of credible candidates) or the voters? Problem half solved. Now, if it is the election, is election singular or plural? Apply the grammatical number rule: Singular subject + singular verb. Problem solved.
Correction: The election of credible candidates by voters is good.
- The claim that the election was free and fair is undermined by videos clips of thugs snatching ballot boxes. (Nollywood style)
Error: Parsing. Videos used as a noun instead of as an adjective. In the sentence, the word videos describes/qualifies clips. (Indicating they are not audio clips). As an adjective it cannot be in the plural form (videos).
Correction: The claim that the election was free and fair is undermined by video clips of thugs snatching ballot boxes.
- Let’s hope all the money spent campaigning will not be in vein. (That could cause acute embolism)
Error: Malapropism. Vein (a tube that forms part of the blood circulation system in the body) and vain (useless; without useful result) are pronounced in the same way /vein/. The hope of the speaker is that the money spent should not be without useful result.
Correction: Let’s hope all the money spent campaigning will not be in vain.
- The result does not commensurate with the number of accredited voters. (We commiserate with the voters)
Error: Parsing. The adjective commensurate (in the right proportion to; corresponding with, equivalent to, etc.) is used as a verb.
Correction: The result is not commensurate with the number of accredited voters. (The verb-to-do: does is replaced by the verb-to-be: is)
ALSO, note the malapropism in the usage below, common with some people:
Let us commensurate /kəˈmɛnʃ(ə)rət/ with the bereaved family. (Be bereaved also?)
The intended meaning is ‘sympathise’ with the bereaved family. The correct synonym (similar word) for sympathise/show pity is commiserate. The confusion arises from the slightly similar pronunciation of both words.
Correction: Let us commiserate /kəˈmɪzəreɪt/ with the bereaved family.
- INEC will release the result as at when due. (Undue grammar)
Error: Pleonasm/Redundancy. At and when are both expressions of the time element, so they can’t be used together. INEC will release the result as due (according to the rules) and when due (according to the set time).
Correction: INEC will release the result as and when due.
Workers should be paid their salaries as (the agreed amount) and when due (the agreed date).
- The thug snatched the ballot box like an hungry lion. (Is ballot box food?)
Error: Wrong article. As a rule, the indefinite article an is used before words that begin with a vowel sound. The English vowels are a e i o u while the consonants are b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, x, z, and usually w and y. The consonant y, usually pronounced as /j/ as in yes /jes/ is pronounced like a vowel sound in some words, such as; Yvonne /ɪˈvɒn/; pronounced to rhyme with i-von; my /mai/; heavy /hevi/, etc. W can be pronounced as a vowel sound too, as in: raw / rɔː/, pronounced to rhyme with ror; bow /bau/, etc.
Exception: The article a is used before consonant sounds, except when the initial consonant of the word is silent in its pronunciation, as in: hour/ˈaʊə(r)/; honour /ˈɒnə(r)/, etc.
She will be here in an hour.
It is an honour to be invited.
He is an honourable man. (NOT: He is a honourable man)
Also, when the initial vowel of a word is enunciated/pronounced as a consonant sound, the article a is used before it. E.g.
He is a European /ˌjʊə.rəˈpiː.ən/; pronounced to rhyme with you-ro-pian. (Not an European)
That was a euphoric experience. (Not an euphoric experience)
She has a unique (you-nick/ style of dressing. (Not an unique style of dressing)
As shown in the examples above, eu and u are pronounced as the consonant y.
Correction: The thug snatched the ballot box like a hungry lion.
- This is to acknowledged the receipt of results from various collation centres. (Well done!)
Error: Breach of the infinitive rule: The infinitive to (do) is always in the present tense. You can’t say for instance:
I need to went to the market.
This is to reminded you of your promise.
In the same way, it is wrong to say: This is to acknowledged….
Correction: This is to acknowledge the receipt of results from the various collation centres.
- The spokesman of INEC has announced the dates for the rerun elections. (Off hand?)
Error: Wrong preposition. Different prepositions are (wrongly) used with the noun spokesman, including:
The spokesman of the president
The spokesman to the president
The spokesman for the president
The simple question to ask to clarify this fuzziness is:
Is the job of the spokesman to speak of the president, speak to the president or speak for the president?
The answer is pretty obvious: It is to speak for (represent) the president.
Correction: The spokesman for INEC has announced the dates for the rerun elections.
NOTE that it is more politically correct to use Spokesperson in line with affirmative action.
CONSIDER ALSO: The Special Adviser/Assistant to the president. (One who gives advice/assistance to the president)
NOT: The Special Adviser/Assistant of the president. (which would mean the adviser/assistant owned by the president; just as one of the cars of the president.
- Many journalists participated at the conference. (Where?)
Error: Wrong preposition. The journalists were at the conference (venue) and participated in the conference (activity). You don’t participate at an activity.
Correction: Many journalists participated in the conference.
#End of Part 3
You may refer to Part 1 here: Special Election Edition Part 1
And Part 2 here: Special Election Edition Part 2
Identify/Explain the error(s) in the following sentences and proffer solutions.
- The ballot box snatcher has been charged to court.
- The result will be announced only after the party agents have made their inputs.
- The president and his vice took part in the rally.
- A couple of things may be sorted out before the inauguration, including; cabinet reshuffle, implementation of the new minimum wage, recruitment of more policemen and the renewal of import licences.
- Please, tell Mr. President that there is hunger in the land.
Kindly share your answers in the Comments section of the Facebook post.
WATCH OUT for a Practical Guide for Editors!