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Speak right Mind Your Spoken English



Welcome to this segment where we shall be teaching one another English language. Being our official language, we must know how to speak and write it correctly especially for the purpose of examinations.

Please enjoy your reading as we bring this to in every edition of our paper – Echonews newspaper.

  1. ATM machine ATM

“ATM” means “Automated Teller Machine,” so if you say “ATM machine” you are really saying “Automated Teller Machine machine.”

  1. Ax Ask

The dialectical pronunciation of “ask” as “ax” is a sure marker of a substandard education. You should avoid it in formal speaking situations.

  1. Borrow Lending

Simple terms, borrow means ‘to receive’ while lend means ‘to give’. People become more confused when either of the actions is to be performed by someone else. Imagine expressions like ‘Can you borrow me your pen?’ instead of ‘Can you lend me your pen?’

  1. Sit exam/Sit for exam

British prefer to ‘sit exams’ while Americans use ‘sit for exams’. Both actually mean the same thing but they are different speech forms for the dialects mentioned above.

  1. Since/For Incorrect:

Don’t say: I’ve been in America since three months.

Say: I’ve been in America for three months.

  1. Advice Advise

It is a common mistake in English for writers to confuse the word ‘advice’. Advice is a noun that refers to an opinion or recommendation that someone provides to you: “I need advice on which job to apply for.” ‘Advise’ is a verb. When you advise someone, you direct him or her to take a particular course of action: “I advise you to apply for the job as soon as possible.” Notice in these examples that the noun form (the naming word) ends in “ice” and the verb form (the doing word) ends in “ise.” This is very often the case in English language and can be used to help you avoid mistakes.

  1. All ready Already

One of the most common mistakes in English occurs when people confuse “all ready” with “already.” All ready means entirely or in total: “Are you all ready for your group singing lesson?” ‘Already’ is an adverb that means before the present time or earlier than the time expected: “I was upset when I arrived at dinner and realized that they had started eating already.”

  1. Altogether All together

All together (adj) means in unison, simultaneously or all at once: “The choir sang all together.” Altogether (adv) means in total, overall or in sum: “Eventually, the car broke down altogether.”

  1. Any and Some are both determiners

A determiner indicates the type of reference that a noun has. Determiners are used to discuss indefinite quantities or numbers when the exact quantity or number is not important. In some cases, ‘any’ and ‘some’ can have the same meaning. Examples: “Will you have any?” “Will you have some?” “Won’t you have any?” “Won’t you have some?” As a general rule, however, we use some for positive statements and any for questions and negative statements. Examples: “You may have some cookies from the jar,” “I don’t want any cookies from the jar.”

  1. Since and Because

“Since” refers to time. “Because” refers to causation. e.g., Since I quit drinking I’ve married and had two children. e.g., Because I quit drinking I no longer wake up in my own vomit.

  1. May and Might

“May” implies a possibility. “Might” implies far more uncertainty. “You may get drunk if you have two shots in ten minutes” implies a real possibility of drunkenness. “You might get a ticket if you operate a tug boat while drunk” implies a possibility that is far more remote. Someone who says “I may have more wine” could mean he/she doesn’t want more wine right now, or that he/she “might” not want any at all. Given the speaker’s indecision on the matter, “might” would be correct.

  1. Confusing It’s, for Its

The differences between It’s and Its can seem complicated, especially if you haven’t studied them in a while, but they’re actually quite straight forward. ‘Its,’ with no apostrophe, is a possessive pronoun. It is equivalent to “his” or “her,” which you will notice don’t have apostrophes either. ‘It’s,’ with an apostrophe before the ‘s’, is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” Contractions always have to have an apostrophe to replace the dropped letter or letters. When trying to determine whether the word needs an apostrophe, you should replace it with “it is” (or “it has,” depending on context) and see if the sentence makes sense. If so, “it’s” is correct. If not, “its” is.