Welcome to Session 5 of the series. Let us begin with the exercise in Session 4. By the way, we’d like to salute those who attempted the exercise and sent their answers to editor@newsplus.ng. Hope you found our feedback useful.

 Exercise 4

What is wrong with the following sentences and why?

  1. I wish you save journey.
  2. The students in this class are less than two hundred.
  3. My sister, you are bless.
  4. Thank God is Friday.

Question 1: I wish you save journey. (Is the journey in danger?)

The problem here is using the verb save in place of the adjective safe which creates the impression that the journey is in danger and you want the subject to save it. The intendment (excuse the legalese) of the speaker is to wish the addressee a safe journey. Safe is the qualifier (adjective qualifying or describing the journey).

Answer:  I wish you a safe journey.

Question 2: The students in this class are less than two hundred.

This is a bit tricky. One of our participants submitted that there is nothing wrong with the sentence BUT there is. Students is the plural of the countable noun student. Less than is used for Uncountable nouns while fewer than is used for countable nouns (Also known as Count and Non-count nouns)

For example:

The oil in the bottle is less than half. NEVER The oil in the bottle is fewer than half.

 Answer: The students in this class are fewer than two hundred.

Question 3: My sister, you are bless. (You just changed your sister’s name to Miss Bless)

Refer to our first lesson on the use of auxiliary verbs and the verb to be with participles.


They have arrived NOT They have arrive.

Or with adjectives:

We are satisfied NOT We are satisfy.

Answer: My sister, you are blessed.

Question 4: Thank God is Friday. (Friday is the middle name of Thank God?)

Confusion is caused by using the verb to be is in place of the contraction of it is (it’s)

 Answer: Thank God it’s Friday (today).


Thank God today is Friday.

Now, let’s quickly look at another confusion associated with it’s.

The club says it’s members were not involved in the protest.

 Two rules apply here:

Rule 1: When you mean it is or it has, use an apostrophe.


It’s (it is) the president’s order.

It’s (it has) got to be done right now.

Rule 2: When you are using its as a possessive, don’t use the apostrophe.


APC is the governing party. Its chairman is Chief Oyegun.((possessive its)

(Note: Governing party is more politically correct than ruling party. Dictators/monarchs rule; democrats govern)

 Answer: The club says its members were not involved in the protest.

 MORE EXAMPLES OF FREQUENTLY MISUSED WORDS/PHRASES beginning with the examples in our featured image:


 1. I hear something smelling. (With your ear?)

We hear with the ear; feel with the skin/tongue/body; see with the eyes; and perceive (become aware of something that smells) with the nose.

Answer: I perceive something smelling.

  1. You are more funnier than Akpororo. (Really?)

The use of the comparative determiner more in place of the intensifier much is laughable.

Answer: You are much (a lot) funnier than Akpororo.

  1. Now I can see that smoking is worst than drinking. (Same as above)

Worse describes something that is of lower quality than another thing. It is used to compare two things with each other while worst describes something that is of the lowest quality of a group of three or more things.

Example: Of smoking, drinking, and stealing, stealing is the worst.

(Note that the definite article ‘the’ precedes worst. Same as in the best, the most, the biggest, etc.)

Some people use worser.

Example: I’m worser than you in the Afrikaans Language.

This is also correct but only for people born in the 16th century.

Answer:  Now I can see that smoking is worse than drinking.

  1. Operators of Ponzi schemes are very trickish. (Too bad)

What is too bad?

The use of the word trickish.


Because you can’t use it in that context.

So, in what context can we use the word trickish?

None whatsoever.


Simple – it’s not an English word.

Can we use tricky in this context instead?



Because tricky means difficult/complicated/problematic/risky, etc and the speaker intends to say that Ponzi scheme operators are very deceptive. (See the use of tricky earlier in this session)

Then what word can we use instead?

Deceptive of course! Or wily or cunning or crafty or dishonest or fraudulent but NEVER trickish.

Answer: Operators of Ponzi schemes are very deceptive or wily or cunning or crafty or dishonest or fraudulent.

5. We went to the embassy severally and finally got our visas after the 4th trip. (Hope not to Syria)

Severally (Adverb of manner) depicts separately, individually, singly, etc. Opposite of jointly.

Several (Pronoun and determiner) depicts more than two or three but fewer than many.

Answer: We went to the embassy several times and finally got our visas after the 4th trip.


Watch out for Part 2 of Frequently misused words/phrases

Exercise 5

Identify sentences with frequently misused words/phrases and analyse them on this platform. Use the COMMENTS box below or on the NewsPlus Facebook page.

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


  1. Comment: I want to believe that readers of this illuminating platform are gaining tremendous knowledge in regard to the appropriate usage of English words and phrases. If I may recall my service in a public media organisation, one editor passed a copy reading “to air (err) is human”. Well, let us not “loose our temper” as we educate our compatriots.

    • Thanks for your support sir and for drawing attention to those troublesome words. Let’s not LOSE steam as we keep AIRING our perspectives to stop people from ERRING in their usage of some words and phrases.


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