We continue with Wrong Expressions:

Thank God for a brown new month. (What about yellow moon?)

This is a case of malapropism. The intended word in the compound adjective is brand, which sounds in a way like brown. Brand-new means completely new, not used yet; as in brand-new car. Therefore:

Thank God for a brand-new month.

Here are other cases of malapropism:

  1. Majority wins the volt. (Beware of electrocution!)

The intended word is vote (to choose through balloting or a show of hands) and not volt (unit of electricity) Therefore:

Majority wins the vote.

  1. May your name be highly exhausted. (Blasphemy!)

You hear this in church a lot during praise and worship. The correct verb is exalted. Therefore:

May your name be highly exalted.

Note that highly in this context is dispensable or redundant, as to exalt is to think or speak very highly of someone or something.

  1. My waste is paining me. (Put it in the dustbin)

There are two issues here. First, is the word waste (to use carelessly; spoil; something that is useless (n)); obviously misused for the word waist (body part). Both words are pronounced in the same way /weist/.

The second issue is the non-grammatical word paining which is misused for hurting. Therefore:

My waist is hurting me.

Note, however, that me in this context is redundant, as your waist cannot be hurting someone else. Therefore:

My waist is hurting or simply My waist hurts.

  1. Thank God for spearing her life. (She survived it?)

The intended verb is sparing /ˈspɛːrɪŋ/ (refraining from killing or injuring) which sounds like spearing /’spɪərɪŋ/ (killing or striking with a spear). Therefore:

Thank God for sparing her life.

  1. Lord, let your wheel be done. (With wheel spanner?)

Wheel [wi:l] sounds like will [wil] and the first word is wrongly used in place of the second. Therefore:

Lord, let your will be done.

Other frequently misused expressions:

  1. People seek for a breakthrough in various ways. (Too much work)

To seek is to search for; hunt for; ask for; look for; etc. ‘For’ is implied by ‘seek’. To seek (for) is a case of redundancy. Therefore:

People seek a breakthrough in various ways.

  1. I’ve yet to buy stationaries for my children (Double jeopardy)

Two issues here. Stationary (spelt with an a) is commonly mistaken for stationery (with an e). Stationary means fixed in one place while stationery means writing materials; pen, paper, pencil, etc.

Obviously, what is meant in the sentence is stationery but the second issue is that stationery is a collective or mass noun and so does not usually have a plural form (stationeries). Therefore:

I’ve yet to buy stationery for my children.

Exception: However, stationeries may be used when referring to a variety of writing materials in the same way as Englishes is acceptable usage when referring to a variety of the language; British, American, Nigerian English, etc. 

  1. I reverse every evil pronounciation against you. (Double deliverance)

Again, there are two issues here. First, pronunciation (the way in which a word is pronounced) is commonly wrongly spelt as pronounciation. This is a lexical error (relating to word or diction). There is also a semantic error (relating to meaning). What is meant is evil declaration. The correct synonym for declaration is pronouncement. Therefore:

I reverse every evil pronouncement against you. (Say Amen)

  1. Can I kiss you, please? (Can you?)

Can is a verb (action word) that denotes the ability or power or skill to do something. E.g. I can swim, I can sing, etc. It also expresses possibility. E.g. It can take place.

May, a modal verb, also expresses possibility but with uncertainty. E.g. It may rain tomorrow. When used to make a request, as in the case question, may is more formal and more acceptable usage. It is the person making the request who would determine his/her ability or skill to kiss the addressee. Therefore:

May I kiss you, please?

  1. She is satisfied by my achievement. (Cool)

The preposition that correctly collocates with the adjective satisfied (pleased) in this context is with. Therefore:

She is satisfied (pleased) with my achievement.


However, by becomes correct usage if the first he in the sentence is different from the second ‘he’. Therefore:

He (the principal) is satisfied by his (the student’s) achievement. (Especially if the student had previously been written off as a failure)

Also, when satisfied is used as a passive verb, by becomes acceptable usage. Therefore:

He was satisfied by the food.

This is grammatically equivalent to: The food satisfied him (active voice).

It means the food satisfied him (took care of his hunger) even though he was not necessarily satisfied (pleased) with the food.

  1. The Government must device a means of checking xenophobia. (True)

There is a lexical error here. The noun device /dɪˈvʌɪs/ (equipment, plan, method, etc) is wrongly used in place of the verb devise /dɪˈvʌɪz/ (To plan or invent). Therefore:

The Government must devise a means of checking xenophobia.

Exception: American English permits the use of ‘device’ as both noun and verb. Hence:

The government should device a device to check xenophobia.

Note, however, that Nigeria and South Africa officially use British English.

Therefore: The government should devise a device to check xenophobia.

  1. You agreed by my request. (Never!)

Three different prepositions collocate with the verb agree to form correct phrasal verbs. Here they are in context:

  1. You agreed to my request.
  2. You agreed with my suggestion.
  3. You agreed on the idea of polygamy.

NOTE: You use ‘agree to’ to depict that a request was made and that the person the request was directed to, responded positively.

To agree with someone is to share an opinion or point of view with the person and to agree with an idea or proposal is to accept that it is valid.

When two or more people agree on something, it means they have the same opinion on the thing.

Now, let’s agree to adjourn this session until next time.

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  1. Comment: I applaud these refreshing interventions, as I believe visitors to the EDITORIAL CONFERENCE will gain immensely from this educative platform. However, I submit that “I AM YET to buy stationery for my children” should have read “I HAVE YET to buy…” Look up the word “YET” in the dictionary and see how it is used with the necessary verb. “I am yet” is pedestrian grammar that belongs only to Nigerians.

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