Commonly Used Wrong Words (with Corrections)

Commonly Used Wrong Words (with Corrections)

Hello Dear Reader! Thank you for following our informative and educative posts on Akademia.  I wish to bring to your attention Commonly Used Wrong Words (with Corrections). Do you know that there are so many atrocious English we speak that makes one wonder if we never turned the words or expressions over in our minds before they escaped our mouths? Anyway, it may be that we are simply not aware that such words or expressions are plainly wrong!

Thomas Carlyle said, ‘The greatest mistake is to imagine that we never err.’ No matter how sound we think we are, we still catch ourselves committing certain unpardonable faux pas! But not to worry, in the ‘Commonly Used Wrong Words (with Corrections)’ post, we will point out some of these errors so that we do not commit them anymore! After all, Lord Chesterfield submitted that ‘Honest error is to be pitied, not ridiculed.’  Therefore, this post is set to point out and correct some of these errors as Charles Caleb Colton points out that ‘Ignorance is a blank sheet on which we may write; but error is a scribbled one from which we must first erase.’ So here we go!

Commonly Used Wrong Words (with Corrections)

For the purpose of clarity, we will classify these errors under various headings…

Unnecessary Repetitive Words

There are some words we unnecessarily and ignorantly or inadvertently repeat each time we say them. They amount to mindless or needless repetitions. In English, we refer to them as redundant expressions, tautology or pleonasm! They include the following:

ATM Machine

Have you said at any time any of these sentences?

  • *The ATM Machine is not dispensing cash.
  • *Not a single ATM Machine is working in that bank.

What is ATM? It is an abbreviation for ‘Automated Teller Machine’! Did you say it is an acronym? No, it is not! So you are not aware that abbreviation, alphabetism or better still, initialism is different from acronym. You need to check out the post on Word Formation Process in English for clarity.

Back to our discussion, the word ‘machine’ is already in the abbreviation ATM; consequently, it is needless to use it after the abbreviation. So, with reference to the two sentences above, it would be correct and appropriate to say:

  • The ATM is not dispensing cash.
  • Not a single ATM is working in that bank.
  • The new bank has installed four additional ATMs in strategic locations in the town.
  • Can you dash to the ATM and get me some cash?
  • Unbelievable! There is only one ATM in Antarctica!

I want to believe this error will not proceed from you again! So inform your friends and let us rid our society of linguistic errors! We are not through; let us see some more…

SUV Vehicle or MPV Vehicle

The word ‘vehicle’ is a hyponym as there are different types with different shapes and sizes. We have cars, buses, vans, minivans or minibuses, double-deckers, skibobs, coupés, dodgems, sledges, sleighs, etc. in further classifications, we refer to some as MPVs and to some as SUVs. MPV, just like ATM, is an abbreviation for ‘Multi-purpose Vehicle’, while SUV is an abbreviation for ‘Sport-utility Vehicle’. So you see that the letter ‘v’ in both abbreviations stands for ‘vehicle’ and therefore, it is pleonastic or tautological to say ‘MPV vehicle’ or ‘SUV Vehicle’. So rather than say:

  • *He just bought a new SUV vehicle.
  • *The family needs an MPV vehicle and not a car.

It would be correct and appropriate to say:

  • He just bought a new SUV.
  • The family needs an MPV and not a car.
  • SUVs are good for rough terrains.

We are not done! We must extirpate all these errors! Let us see some more…

PIN Number

‘Poor me, I can’t seem to remember my PIN number…What will I do now?’ I am cocksure you have said this and you have heard others say this times without number. You want to retrieve your lost SIM card, you talk about PIN number. You talk about ATM and the next thing you say is PIN number, so many things that have to do with security, you talk about PIN number! Do you even know that the letter ‘n’ in the abbreviation PIN stands for ‘number’? Just like in the cases of ATM and SUV/MPV, this is a pleonastic expression. Just say PIN and it would be okay. Do not be impervious to adjustment! Do not go on saying ‘PIN number’!

PIN means ‘Personal Identification Number’ in whatever way you make use of it. I believe you will not do that anymore. When next you hear someone say ‘PIN number’, do well to correct them.

Reverse Back

This is a commonly used wrong expression especially amongst learners of English as a Second Language. The word reverse is both a transitive and intransitive verb which means ‘to go backward, or move something in a backward direction’. So the word ‘reverse’ already subsumes the word ‘back’.  It is, therefore, incorrect to say:

  • *Please reverse the car back.

It would rather, be appropriate to just say:

  • Please reverse the car.
  • He reversed the car and sped off.

Wrong use of Prepositions

There are some verbs that need the addition of prepositions to realise their meaning. When some verbs combine with prepositions, the resulting linguistic phenomenon is known as Phrasal Verbs. On the other hand, the combination yield what we refer to as prepositional verbs. A prepositional verb is a verb that forms a combination with a preposition without yielding a different meaning other than what is obvious. But you must know that there is a difference between phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs (see Differences between Phrasal Verbs. Phrasal-Prepositional Verbs & Prepositional Verbs).

However, there are some verbs that we do not need to use with prepositions as the prepositions we seek to use alongside them are already contained in such verbs. So using any preposition with these types of verbs will amount to repetition or tautology. Let us see some of these verbs.

Order for

Have you ever visited a restaurant and you find yourself ‘ordering for’ food? Then you are guilty! The preposition ‘for’ is already subsumed in the verb ‘order’. So it is not grammatical to say:

  • *I ordered for two plates of food.
  • *We ordered for some ice cream
  • *Let us order for some drinks.

Rather, it would be appropriate to say:

  • I ordered two plates of food.
  • We ordered some ice cream
  • Let us order some drinks.

Comprise of

Comprise, as a verb, means ‘to include or incorporate something’. In addition it means ‘to be made up of something or to consist of something’. When you look at the meaning of the word closely, the preposition ‘of’ is already part of it. So anywhere we use the word, the use of the preposition ‘of’ will be superfluous or redundant. Therefore, it is wrong to say:

  • *The class comprises of students from various backgrounds.
  • *Our lunch comprises of rice, meat, vegetables, fish and fruits.

It would be correct to say:

  • The class comprises students from various backgrounds.
  • Our lunch comprises rice, meat, vegetables, fish and fruits.

A verb similar to ‘comprise’ is ‘consist’, which means ‘to be made up of something or diverse parts; for instance:

  • This bag consists of pencil, eraser, ruler, and pen.
  • The US consists of peoples from all over the world.

In the case of consist, the preposition of is quite necessary as shown in the examples above. Why does ‘consist’ require ‘of’ and ‘comprise’ does not? Good question. The answer to that, aside from the explanations given thus far, is simple. See (The Eccentric Nature of the English Language).

 Request for

This expression is very common, even in the official communications where you expect flawless use of language. The case of ‘request for’ is similar to that of ‘comprise of’. The preposition ‘of’ is already included in the verb ‘request’. What does this transitive verb mean? Request means ‘to ask politely or formally for something to be given or done’. It also means ‘to ask somebody for something or to do something.’ For instance:

  • He requested that he be excused.
  • She requested her favourite song.
  • The couple requested Father Peter to perform their marriage ceremony.
  • Prosecution counsel requested the file of the accused.

In all these examples, the preposition of does not occur because it will be redundant to insert it. But many people insert use the expression ‘request for’ in their day-to-day conversations and communications. You see or hear expressions like:

  • *I requested for leave of absence in the office.
  • *She requested for permission to attend to her children
  • *They requested for extension.
  • *He requested for a new official car.

All these are wrong and ungrammatical. Once you use request in the sense of asking something to be done or that somebody should do something, do not add ‘of’ to it. As a transitive verb, ‘request’ requires a complement or an object.

Discuss about

Another instance of wrong use of preposition is in the common expression, ‘discuss about’. In English, we do not discuss about something or somebody; rather, we discuss something or somebody. Discuss is a transitive verb that requires a complement or a direct object and there should be no interpolation of the preposition ‘about’ whenever we use it. It means to ‘to talk about a subject with others’ or to ‘to consider a topic in speaking or writing’. So rather than have sentences like:

  • *We discussed about our future.
  • *She discussed about her husband with the counsellor.
  • *They were discussing about you when I entered the room.
  • *I discussed about the issue with my dad.

The correct and grammatical forms of these sentences should be:

  • We discussed our future.
  • She discussed her husband with the counsellor.
  • They were discussing you when I entered the room.
  • I discussed the issue with my dad.

Other examples include:

  • There is a need to discuss it with them first.
  • Chapter 3 of thesis writing usually discusses methodology.
  • The book discusses the events that led to the Civil War.
  • Why don’t you discuss the proposal with your wife?
  • Discuss the transfer with the Manger first.

Wrongly Used Words

It is not only prepositions that we sometimes use wrongly. There are other wrongly used words. We erroneously use some words outside their linguistic habitat. What that means is that we sometimes use a preposition as a verb and use a verb as an adjective. What results is convoluted expressions even though they sound good to the ear.  Do not get me wrong, some lexical items belong to more than one Part of Speech. For instance, the word ‘white’ can be a noun, adjective and noun depending on the context. Look at these sentences:

  • She had a white wedding (adjective).
  • The colour in the middle of Nigerian flag is white (noun).
  • The printer whited the first two pages of the book (verb).

What is wrong, however, is when you deliberately wrench a word from its natural linguistic habitat like saying ‘you’ is a verb and ‘it’ is an adverb. So let us see some of these wrongly used words…

 Coloured TV

There are different species of humans on earth: the Caucasians, Latinos, Indians, Blacks, etc. But some were formerly referred to as ‘Coloured’ in South Africa, during the Apartheid movement where segregation based on skin colour existed in which the word, ‘coloured’ refers to an individual belonging to a group of mixed ethnic origin.

The word, ‘coloured’ in the sense above, is a noun and its plural form is ‘coloureds’. It is possible to use a noun as an adjective as in wallpaper, textbook, doorknob, waterbed, wastebasket, etc. in compounding, which is one of the processes of Word formation in English. But we do not treat such words as a verb that can be inflected for the past tense like you have in the erroneous use of the word, coloured television.

People say this a lot but it is wrong. The correct way to say it is colour TV or colour television. An adjective is not a verb and therefore, cannot be rendered in the past tense. The word, ‘coloured’ as we have established above is a noun! However, this does not mean that we cannot use the word, ‘colour’ as a verb in which the past tense will be ‘coloured’. We can use it both as transitive and intransitive verbs. For instance:

  • The pupil coloured the paper green.
  • She coloured an alibi. (Gave a convincing/plausible appearance to what she recounted)
  • He became coloured up when he was named the villain. (Blushed due to embarrassment)
  • His judgment was coloured because of the bribe he took. (Skewed judgment)
  • Do not allow anger to colour your judgment.

Ensure you get a mastery of the various use of the word ‘colour’. But never forget this: it is not ‘coloured TV’, it is ‘colour TV’!

Matured Boy

I know you also say this all the time! Don’t you? See the following:

  • *He is a matured boy
  • *Jane is a matured girl.
  • *You should behave like a matured person.

The list is endless. The same rule that applies to ‘Coloured TV and Colour TV’ also obtains here. The word ‘mature’ is both an adjective and a verb. But when you use it as an adjective, you must not write it as though you are inflecting it for the past tense with the addition of past tense marker, ‘-d’. It is only when you use it as a verb that you can do that. Let us see sentences where we use the word ‘mature’ correctly:

As an adjective

  • Antonio is just fourteen but he is very outspoken and already quite mature.
  • We see experience in the author’s mature writings.
  • A mature animal is one capable of breeding.
  • The wisdom shown by the mature dramatist is amazing.
  • The role is that of a mature woman with a successful career behind her.
  • Because of the subject, this movie is recommended for mature audiences only.
  • Hydroelectric power is a mature industry in the region.

 As a verb

  • Children begin to mature at different ages.
  • When will those Treasury bonds mature?
  • The plan had matured over the intervening months.

So no more saying ‘he is a matured boy’ but ‘he is a mature boy’. If you make this mistake again, I will not refer to you as a ‘mature reader’!

Travelling Bag

Have you ever seen a bag that is travelling before? If you have not, I have seen one before; yes! I saw it in one of the Harry Porter series! Of course, a bag can only travel in a movie! The proper way to put this is Traveller’s bag. You hear people say:

  • *I need a travelling bag to pack my loads.
  • *She bought a big blue travelling bag.
  • *He lost his travelling bag while connecting flights.

All the above statements are wrong. Recast them thus, as appropriate:

  • I need a traveller’s bag to pack my loads.
  • She bought a big blue traveller’s bag.
  • He lost his traveller’s bag while connecting flights.

 Driving License

In the land of the fairies, it is quite possible to find a license driving. It sounds funny; right? But when you are referring to the legal authorisation, permit or a printed document from government that gives you official permission to drive a vehicle, the correct way to refer to refer to that is Driver’s License and not Driving License! I feel like asking you where the license is driving to.

In addition, take note of the spelling, you can spell it ‘license’ or ‘licence’. Both are nouns and are correct. However, we can also use the word ‘license’ as an intransitive verb, which means to formally allow somebody to do something or to give official permission for somebody to do something or for an activity to take place. Often, it comes in the passive form. For example:

  • He was licensed to sell alcohol.
  • In some countries, their citizens are licensed to carry arms.

Furthermore, we refer to the person, corporation or organisation authorised to do something as the licensee, while the granting of a license, especially to practice a profession is called licensure and somebody authorised, who has been granted a license to practice or teach a profession or skill is called a licentiate. Don’t forget that!

Running Nose / Smelling Feet

These expressions like the case of ‘travelling bag’ and ‘driving license’ are equally wrong. We have a case of using the wrong words. There is this humorous one-liner that asks “If our feet smell and our noses run, does it mean we are created upside down?” When someone says they have a ‘running nose’, ask them where the nose is running to. Also when someone says the have a smelling feet, ask for the extra nose on the feet because they have feet that can smell. Tell them the correct expressions are:

  • I have a runny nose.
  • I have smelly feet.

Both ‘running’ and ‘smelling’ are verbs in the progressive forms and not adjectives that modify the nouns they precede. The correct adjectives are ‘runny’ and ‘smelly’.

Working Experience

This is another commonly used wrong expression especially among speakers of English as a Second Language. This expression suggests ‘an experience that is working’ rather than experiences gathered over a period of time. The correct expression is ‘work experience’. So when next you put your curriculum vitae together, do not include ‘working experience’ but ‘work experience’.

Double Parking

You must have seen a scenario where vehicles park indiscriminately on either side of the road making vehicular movement difficult and unwieldy. How do we describe such a situation? Certainly, it is not ‘double parking’. The appropriate way to describe this is ‘double-park’. Double-park means ‘to park (a car or other vehicle) alongside or directly opposite another already parked by the roadside, thereby causing an obstruction’.

Plate Number

It is wrong to say ‘plate number’! Of course, it is possible to have pate number, maybe in a dormitory, hostel or prison where plates have been numbered so that at lunch or dinner time, individuals can identify their respective plates by the numbers on them. But I’m sure you know that is not the case here. When referring to the piece of metal plate that you attach to your car for identification, the correct thing to say is Number Plate! Americans call it Licence Plate. I have a post that talks about this extensively. See (Number Plate or Plate Number: Which is Correct?).

 Wake Keeping or Wake Keep

Like in the case of ‘night vigil’, this is another commonly used wrong expression. See the following incorrect expressions:

  • *He attended the wake keeping ceremony for the old man.
  • *The wake keep of the departed soldier will be held tomorrow.

It is absolutely incorrect to say any of the sentences above. The appropriate word to use is ‘Wake’. The word ‘wake’ is a watch or a vigil kept over corpse before burial or cremation. It also refers to a social gathering held after a funeral or, in Ireland, often after the death but before the funeral. In wakes, it is traditional for people to drink and talk about the dead person. Another sense of the word ‘wake’ is the patronal or dedication festival of English parish churches or a solemn or ceremonial vigil

Enjoy

Many people use this verb wrongly. By the way, ‘enjoy’ is a transitive verb and, as such, requires a direct object. It is absolutely wrong to make statements like:

  • *I enjoyed last night.
  • *We enjoyed when we visited the city.
  • *Can we go out? I need to enjoy

It is just appropriate and grammatical to put a complement or a direct object after the use of the verb ‘enjoy’. The sentences above would be grammatical if rendered:

  • I enjoyed the movie last night.
  • We enjoyed the cuisine when we visited the city.
  • Can we go out? I need to enjoy the life in the city.

‘Enjoy’ means to ‘find something pleasing; take pleasure in something’, ‘have use or satisfying benefit of something’ and it also means ‘to benefit from a desirable condition of situation. For example:

  • She was really enjoying the ballroom dance.
  • After the transfer is complete, he will enjoy the sole ownership of the houses.
  • The game reserve enjoys months of uninterrupted visitors.

The only instance where we use ‘enjoy’ alone is when we use it as an interjection and not a verb; and in that context as an interjection, it means ‘have a good time’ which we use to express a wish for someone to have a pleasurable experience.

Go slow (with reference to heavy traffic)

This is a typical Nigerian English in which people take the instance of heavy traffic or traffic to mean ‘go slow’. In the sense of its use as a Nigerian English, it has become nominalised. For instance:

  • There was go-slow on the Third Mainland Bridge.
  • I cannot go out because of the go-slow.

But in Standard English, the expression ‘go-slow’ does not relate to vehicular activities either formally or informally. It is better to use the appropriate terminology which is ‘traffic’. We can have instances of ‘traffic jam’ which is a noun and which refers to ‘a number of vehicles so obstructed that they can scarcely move’. We can even have instances in which the word’ traffic’ becomes modified to reflect the state of vehicular movement. For instance:

  • There was a heavy traffic due to the early morning downpour.
  • We usually have light traffic on the road after the morning rush hour.

But using the expression ‘go-slow’ to mean traffic jam is not acceptable in Standard English. ‘Go-slow’, in Standard English, means something different from traffic or vehicular movements. It means ‘slowdown’, as in a slowing down like a business slowdown. It has to do with the reduction in work that is, an intentional reduction in pace or production by workers in order to win demands from their employer. As an intransitive verb, it means ‘to work deliberately slowly as a tactic in industrial conflict’. So we should not confuse go-slow with traffic jam; they have no bearing with each other.

Night vigil

The erroneous expression ‘night vigil’ is an amusing one because vigil can only happen at night. Vigil means, ‘a purposeful watch maintained, especially at night, to guard, observe, pray, etc.; a period spent in doing something through the night, e.g., watching, guarding, or praying.’ It also refers to the eve of some festivals and holy days, spent in prayer. In addition, it means religious services or prayers at night, especially on the eve of a festival or holy day.

So it is sheer redundancy to say ‘night vigil’; rather, one can say ‘vigil’. See the following sentence for clarity:

  • I went to vigil last night.
  • They kept vigil all through the night.
  • The community held vigil to honour the departed.

Convocate

One of the tests I usually administer to my student is to ask them the verb for ‘matriculation’. Of course, they chorus ‘matriculate!’ But when I ask them for the verb form of ‘convocation’, I hear ‘convocate’! I hope you too are not like those who say ‘convocate’. If you have not read the post, The Eccentric Nature of English, it is time you visited the page. You see, some English words share same characteristics, but when it comes to certain aspects, the rule changes. That is why one of the characteristics of language is ‘arbitrariness’.

Going by the formation of ‘matriculate’ from ‘matriculation’, it stands to reason that ‘convocate’ should also result from ‘convocation’. But unfortunately, that is not the case. The verb form of the noun ‘convocation’ is ‘convoke’. The same applies to words like ‘invocation’, ‘evocation’ and ‘revocation’, which have their verb forms as ‘invoke’, ‘evoke’ and ‘revoke’ respectively. So if you are still in the college or university, when will you convoke? So get to your lexicon and permanently delete the word ‘convocate’ and replace it with the verb, ‘convoke’!

Emphasy

This error is common in speech rather than in writing. The word ‘emphasy’ does not exist in the English language whatsoever. But many people use it to mean ‘emphasis’. We should note that there is no silent sound in the word ‘emphasis’ as the transcribed form is /empfəsɪs/. The error of pronouncing ‘emphasis’ as ‘emphasy’ comes from the inaccurate assumption that the final sound in the word is silent. For instance, the word ‘chassis’, which refers to the steel frame, wheels, engine, and mechanical parts of a motor vehicle, to which the body is attached, has a silent sound at the end. If we transcribe the word ‘chassis’, we have /ʃæs.i/. But this is not the case when it comes to the word ‘emphasis’. So stop saying ‘emphasy’ as there is no word like that in English! (See Commonly Mispronounced Silent Words)

Round off vs Round up

Now, there is nothing wrong with either of these two Phrasal Verbs. It is just that we misappropriate the meanings. Let us see the meaning of each! Round off means ‘finish something in pleasing way or bring something to a pleasant or satisfactory end by doing or adding one last thing.

  • We rounded off the evening with a drink.
  • The teacher rounded off the class with a story.
  • Our pastor rounded off his sermon with a call to dedication.

 Round up means to ‘gather people or animals together in one place’. It also means to ‘increase number when rounding it or express a number as a larger, less exact, but more manageable number for ease of calculation’.

Lend vs Borrow

Many people mix up these two words. Some even hardly use the word ‘lend’, all they use is ‘borrow’ both in referring to themselves as the receiver and the giver. But there is a need to clarify the use of these two words. Never use word ‘lend’ when you are the receiver and if you are the giver, do not use the word ‘borrow’. The only instance you can use ‘borrow’ as the giver and ‘lend’ as the receiver is illustrated in the sentences below:

  • She borrowed a large sum from the bank.
  • I borrowed his car for some days.
  • He was magnanimous enough to lend us some money.
  • May I borrow your car to run few errands?
  • He lent me his pen.
  • The bank has agreed to lend us money for the project.

So, ensure that you never say anything like these:

  • *He borrowed me his car.
  • *The bank borrowed us some money.

Off/On vs put off/Put On

It is so appalling to hear people say:

  • *Off your shoes.
  • *Off the light.
  • *On your phone.
  • *On the television.

 What makes it more disturbing is that it is a commonplace among the educated elite and the academic. We have to consciously break off from this atrocious way of speaking. When we have mastered the fundamental rudiments of the English language, which begins from proper understanding of the Parts of Speech, then this problem will greatly reduce. In syntactic argumentation, certain words cannot play some roles. The verb is a sine qua non in any utterance that must convey sense. So when you remove it from a sentence, it falls flat. A preposition cannot replace a verb. It is not a pronoun that can we can use instead of a noun. A dynamic verb, precisely an activity verb (see Types of Verbs) must precede the prepositions ‘off’ and ‘on’ in the sentences above. We can have any of the following correct forms:

  • Take off your shoes!
  • Switch off the light.
  • Switch on your phone!
  • Put on the television!

Don’t ever make the mistake of not adding these activity verbs to these specific prepositions. The sentences above are also instances of an Imperative Sentence (see Types of Sentence According to Function). Without the addition of the activity verbs, you cannot have an imperative sentence.

Take personal / Take Serious

You have heard somebody say:

  • *Why do you take it personal?
  • *You are not taking the matter serious.

These two sentences are incorrect. Why? The answer is simple. Both sentences are describing the manner of ‘taking something’, and this is what an adverb does. It modifies or tells us more about a verb. In answering how someone takes something, the answer be answered with an adjective ‘personal’ but with the adverb ‘personally’. The same principle applies to the second sentence. You do not take something ‘serious’ but ‘seriously’. So you have these correct forms:

  • Why do you take it personally?
  • You are not taking the matter seriously.

The explanations offered above also apply to the expression, ‘funny enough’ instead of ‘funnily enough’. Always do a functional check on the words you use to ensure the use of the appropriate Part of Speech. Try to substitute the word you wish to use with another similar one and see if it fits into the context, this way, errors will reduce. For instance, consider this statement:

  • *Funny enough, I have never eaten candy.

It sounds good to the ear; but it is wrong! What sounds good may be grammatically incorrect. The word ‘funny’ as used above is an adjective and the appropriate word that will fit in has to be an adverb. If we substitute the word ‘funny’ with the word ‘really’, we will have:

  • Really enough, I have never eaten candy.

 ‘Really’ is an adverb, but ‘funny’ is not. So we have to use an adverb and that gives us the correct form:

  • Funnily enough, I have never eaten candy.

I am hearing you / I am seeing you

We refer to the verbs ‘hear’ and ‘see’ as ‘state’ or ‘stative’ verbs (See Types of Verbs). These verbs do not accommodate the progressive form, that is, the ‘-ing’. Consequently, we do not use them in the continuous form. Examples of Verbs in that category include: see, hear, like, love, hate, believe, resemble, etc. Try to use the progressive forms of any of these verbs in a sentence and see how unwieldy and awkward the sentence is. So stop saying, ‘ I am hearing or seeing you’.

Severally

Now, this is really interesting! You cannot wriggle out of this as you are quite guilty of using this word wrongly. Look at these sentences before you begin to protest:

*I came to your house severally but you were not available.

*John had warned the boys severally to stop throwing stones.

There is nothing wrong with the word, ‘severally’; but there is everything wrong with the way you have used it. In the two sentences above, what the writer meant in the first sentence was that he came to the house many times while in the second sentence, John had at many occasions warned the boys. Let us see what this word really mean…

As an adverb, it means the following: separately, individually or distinctly; each in turn, respectively; independently. So going by the first sentence, we have an idea that the visitor to the house was probably a disembodied spirit! Let us learn to use this word appropriately. Good examples of the proper use of the word ‘severally’ include:

  • I have itemised and explained each of the commonly used wrong words and expressions (with Corrections) severally in this post.
  • God speaks severally and variously to individuals about His plans.
  • After their consultations, they all severally came to the same conclusion.
  • The students are jointly and severally responsible for the mayhem.
  • We can treat collective nouns severally or collectively.
  • The parties signed the agreement forms severally and jointly.
  • Couples should be responsible for running their families severally and jointly.
  • A car comprises severally integrated systems.
  • The pupils got their scholarships severally.
  • To preserve the colours of the clothes, she washed them severally.
  • The doctor attended to the patients severally.
  • Because of the mild disagreement, Margaret and her friends went to school severally.

 So take note of this word and never use it in the wrong sense.

Closing Words

In the words of the former US President, Thomas Jefferson, “Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.” Take care of those errors and do not be ignorant. Do not also agree to what is wrong; even if it is socially acceptable! Error is error! Let us avoid them. I recommend other posts on this site especially: Commonly Mispronounced Words with Silent Letters and Commonly Confused Words with Definitions & Examples. Supersede vs Surpass, Barbing Salon or Barbershop, Avoid vs Afford, Affect vs Effect, Academia vs Academic, Access vs Assess and many others.

hen it comes to the correct usage of the English language, getting it right is not negotiable! Do you agree with me? Use the comment box below and send in your observations and experience with the use of these atrocious English. I will be glad to have them. Thank you!

6 Comments

  1. mhen,some wrongly spoken grammers could sound so alien that one might out of ignorance argue for the rest of the day over them except the are being brought into our cognizance as this case…can’t wait to say to my room mate ‘hey! what hell are u tryna do with my travellers bag?

  2. I don’t know how you do it. This is one of those must see sites. I’m sure glad I had the chance to see all of these wonderful pictures.

  3. Ciao Its not my first time to pay a visit this web page, i am browsing this website dailly and obtain fastidious data from here daily. grazie

  4. ☺ The university is yet to announce convoation day for class of 2017, so I don’t know the exact date I will CONVOKE this year.

    It sounds so alien. Am already seeing plenty of raised eyebrows from the people I will tell this to.
    Learning proper English is fun

  5. Some errors just feel so real that the correct thing sounds alien . Like comprises of..you sure that’s not correct? Like are you sure sure?

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