Welcome to Session 7. We are still waiting for interventions on the conundrum at the end of session 6, regarding the sentence:

The old man died after a brief illness.

Meanwhile, we are again acceding to the demand for more examples of Frequently Misused Words and Phrases. Here are more examples:

  1. The news was broadcasted on KFM. (Are you sure?)

Recall Participles and irregular verb: A verb in which the past tense is not formed with the usual -ed ending. Broadcast is one of them: broadcast – broadcast – broadcast. Therefore:

The news was broadcast on KFM.

However, US usage recognises broadcasted as simple past and past participle of the verb. (Note: Nigeria and South Africa use British English).

Other examples of irregular verbs

beat–beat–beat begin–began–begun
bite–bit–bitten bleed–bled–bled
blow–blew–blown break–broke–broken
spend – spent – spent build–built–built

2.  I’m greatful. (Sounds like great fool).

A malapropism. Grateful and greatful sound the same. The correct word in this context is grateful. Therefore:

I’m grateful.

But when can we use greatful?



Forget the word. It does not exist.

3.  I’ll call my cousin who is in abroad. (You won’t get her.)

Abroad (adverb) means out of the country or overseas. It refers to no particular place and does not take the preposition in. You can’t say I’ll call my cousin who is in out of the country or who is in overseas. Therefore:

I’ll call my cousin who is abroad.

4.  I don’t jealous her. (You can’t.)

Jealous is an adjective (a describing word) which means feeling or showing a resentful suspicion that one’s partner is attracted to or involved with someone else, as in “a jealous wife”. It also means to be fiercely protective of one’s possessions. The right word in this context is envy, a verb (action or doing word) which means showing a desire to have a quality or possession belonging to someone else. Therefore:

I don’t envy her or I’m not jealous of her.

5.  I’ve not saw her in a while. (You may hammer her)

Another irregular verb in action. (See – saw – seen). Therefore:

I’ve not seen her in a while.

6.  The patient was diagnosed of flu. (With what instrument?)

This is medical jargon and medical jargon is specific. To diagnose is to identify a patient with a particular disease or condition. Therefore:

The patient was diagnosed with flu.

7.  You looks depressed. (Same to you)

Subject + verb agreement (Here, with number, gender and person)


I (first person singular) look depressed.

We (first person plural) look depressed.

You (second person singular) look depressed.

Also, You (second person plural) look depressed.

They (third person plural) look depressed.

He/She (masculine/feminine third person singular) looks depressed.

It (neuter gender third ‘person’ singular) looks depressed. Therefore:

You look depressed.

8.  Members of our family wishes you many happy returns. (Thank you)

See Guide above. The subject (Members of our family) is plural and should take the plural form of the verb wish. Therefore:

Members of our family wish you many happy returns.

9.  Please, borrow me your pen. (No!)

To borrow is to take something from someone for some time while to give something to someone for some time is to lend. The giver lends while the receiver borrows. Therefore:

Please, lend me your pen. (Give me your pen for some time)

10.  I hate fowl language. (Such as kukuruku!)

This is a malapropism. Fowl (chicken) and foul (bad) have identical pronunciation and are mixed up here. Therefore:

I hate foul (bad) language.

11.  I heard a strange footsteps last night. (Double evil step)

The indefinite article a is used with singular countable nouns. Footsteps is plural. This is like saying I saw a men. Therefore:

I heard strange footsteps last night.

12.  Shout a loudest hallelujah! (No, I’m tired!)

Recall usage of comparative and superlative adjectives. The definite article the precedes superlative adjectives. Therefore:

Shout the loudest hallelujah!

13.  She denied she didn’t steal the money. (Ole! She stole it.)

To deny is to disagree with or refuse to admit. Denying that you didn’t do something is to admit that you actually did it. Here, the subject is refusing to admit that she didn’t steal the money, when she should be refusing to admit that she stole the money. Therefore:

She denied she stole the money. (If she didn’t steal the money)

14.  My children can take care of theirself (Shame!)

Some people use theirself frequently in the English Language instead of themselves  despite the fact that theirself is not an English word. Therefore:

15.  My children can take care of themselves.

The new manager resumed office yesterday. (Impossible!)

To resume is to return to an office after a period of absence such as a vacation/leave, hospitalisation, suspension, etc. To take over the duties and responsibilities of an office for the first time is to assume the office. Therefore:

The new manager assumed office yesterday.

16.  Don’t go to anywhere with my car! (First and last warning!)

Anywhere, like abroad, is no particular place and does not need the preposition to. Therefore:

Don’t go anywhere with my car!

17.  Two trains collide in Soweto, one dies (Shuooo!)

This is an ambiguous headline: One train dies? Or one passenger dies? Say what you mean:

Two trains collide in Soweto, one passenger dies

(More on ambiguity later)

18.  We thank God for his protections. (And guidances?)

Protection, like guidance, is an uncountable noun. You can’t say I thank God for his guidances. It doesn’t matter whether you are referring to the protection or guidance of two or more people. Therefore:

We thank God for his protection.

However, there is an exception where it refers to legal measures for defending or preserving constitutional rights: E.g. constitutional protections of political and civil rights.

19.  They prayed for divine auction upon their pastor. (Why?)

Why would anybody want to auction their pastor? An auction is a public sale where items are sold to the highest bidder. This is also a case of Dogberryism. What is intended here is unction – a religious rite of anointing someone with oil. Therefore:

They prayed for divine unction upon their pastor.

Our State House Correspondence is a married man. (Travesty.)

Correspondence is communication through letters, email, etc. while a Correspondent is a person who writes letters frequently or a person employed to report for a media organisation. Therefore:

Our State House Correspondent is a married man.

(Some of these mistakes are so elementary that they are sometimes unbelievable. With time we shall be hyper-linking the offending publications to make their CORRESPONDENTS and editors sit up.)

20.  The minister assured on Wednesday that Mr. President was hale and hearty. (Who is ‘On Wednesday’?)

Recall session 6. Assure, like Inform, is a transitive verb. (Thanks to Mr. Kola Danisa, one of our facilitators, who first drew our attention to the wrong usage of the word. See Newsplus’s comments section on Session 6). Always remember that Assure must have a direct object; that is, the unit or entity that receives the action performed by the verb. The scenario described here is the Minister of Information briefing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday. Missing in action is the direct object (State House correspondents who were given the assurance).  On Wednesday takes over and the result is a grammatical blunder. Therefore:

The minister assured State House correspondents on Wednesday that Mr. President was hale and hearty.

But the problem is not over yet. Mr. President is not a name or designation. There is nothing like Mr. President Zuma or Mr. President Mugabe. Mr. President is an exalted title adopted to address the first US president, George Washington in 1789. In the US, it is reserved for the incumbent president only and not used for past presidents. It is also odd to use it to address an absent president. In other words, it is ideally used in addressing the president DIRECTLY (Face to Face) and not in third person context. For Example:

Mr. President has travelled. (Odd)

Welcome back, Mr. President or Thank you, Mr. President. (Ideal when directly addressing the president)

Mr. President is also used as a salutation in official letters addressed directly to the president.


The minister assured State House correspondents on Wednesday that the President was hale and hearty.

The minister assured State House correspondents on Wednesday that President Buhari was hale and hearty.

So, stop abusing ‘Mr. President’.

There are a lot more examples of frequently misused words and phrases in our handbook on editing (Coming soon).

Next, we shall be looking at those “tiny but very troublesome words” in the English Language. Yes, you guessed right – Prepositions. Don’t miss out!

REMEMBER: To get every session  in your mailbox, sign up by sending an email with the subject JOIN and message JOIN EDITORIAL CONFERENCE to editor@newsplus.ng


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