When I was beginning this blog a very good friend told me not to mock anyone who doesn’t speak correct English. I would never do that, true, but you know there are times when despite yourself, you throw some not-so-nice looks at people who speak like they were born to give you nightmares. Honestly, English as a Second Language is not very difficult and it is completely unacceptable when you have had a lifetime of learning the language at school and still make mistakes like that. I mean, come on, don’t you watch movies, read magazines, if not books? talk to others?
You don’t just learn English in class you know. Or for that matter, you don’t just learn any language from a textbook alone. There is so much around you, teaching you, changing your ideas about language, and helping you grasp new words, new pronunciations, and new usage. How, then, do some people just never learn? Or is it simple ego that makes you think you know it all and therefore you can draw the blinds on these new things? I’ll never know.
So I decided to correct a lot of wrong phrases going around these days, especially on Facebook. If you think you make some of these mistakes, and if you are open to being corrected, please read this, and let me know if there’s more of these that you know of.
1. Wreck Havoc
So the Cambridge Dictionary defines Havoc as: confusion and lack of order, especially causing damage or trouble
The same Dictionary defines Wreck as: to destroy or badly damage something
Given how similar the two definitions are, does it really make sense when you say something like “The cyclone wrecked havoc on the area”? How can you cause damage and then badly damage the same thing? You get my drift here?
The correct phrase, therefore, is to “Wreak Havoc.” Notice how close “Wreak” and “Wreck” are to each other? Only, the Cambridge Dictionary defines “Wreak: as: to cause something to happen in a violent and often uncontrolled way.
Now let’s use it in a sentence: “The cylone wreaked havoc on the area.” Makes sense to you now?
2. Very Unique
Again, the Cambridge Dictionary defines Unique as: being the only existing one of its type.
Now if that definition hold true, anything unique is incomparable because there isn’t another one of its type. If there isn’t another one of its type, there can be no degree of comparison of its uniqueness, right? A thing can be unique or it can’t, so “very unique” is very wrong, I’d say.
3. Please RSVP
RSVP is a French acronym for “Respondez S’il Vous Plait”, which really translates to “Reply Please”. The adding of the “Please” before the acronym is totally unnecessary because then the phrase would become “Please Reply Please”. Too polite I think, and definitely not correct.
4. PIN Number / ATM Machine
PIN means Personal Identification Number. So you can’t really say Personal Identification Number Number, can you? ATM means Automated Teller Machine (and not Any Time Money!) so again, you can’t have Automated Teller Machine Machine, right? So there.
5. Trying Her Hands With Photography:
When you are trying to convey that someone is trying to use her ability or aptitude for something like photography, you say “She is trying her hand at photography”. Trying her hands with photography makes no sense. None at all. Check an Idiom Dictionary.
6. Don’t Loose Faith!
Cambridge Dictionary again, definition of “Loose”: describes things which are not fixed or held together or to anything else
And the definition of Lose: to no longer have something because you do not know where it is, or because it has been taken away from you / to stop feeling something.
So, yes, you lose faith, you lose a game, you lose weight, and if you use “loose” in any of these senses, you’re a loser.
7. Revert Back
The definition of Revert in the Cambridge Dictionary: to return to doing, using, being or referring to something, usually something bad or less satisfactory
The meaning of Back? in, into or towards a previous place or condition, or an earlier time
So you just revert, you don’t revert back. This is a classic case of using words that mean the same in a phrase. Others are typically, “Moral rectitude”, “Temporary Reprieve”, “Few in number”, “Big in size”, “Return back” and so on.
I am sure there are a lot more that I am missing here. But I think I have done enough thinking for the day. Now where is the coffee?