Common Errors in English
With Samuel Alimi
Pictures are always a good reminder of memories. Almost everyone I know loves taking them to capture vivid moments. Yesterday, I picked one of my childhood pictures and reflected on the blissful experiences I had during a party with my friends. However, I resisted the overwhelming temptation influenced by our environment to call the picture a ‘throwback’. Does this term sound odd to anyone interested in improving their fluency and clarity while communicating with others? This interesting class raises a common question: what is a throwback?
Firstly, none of the authoritative dictionaries I consulted suggest that the word ‘throwback’ means ‘old pictures’. It was confusing to realize that they are not related in any way. I searched online and made several attempts to find an article that would debunk my knowledge. Unfortunately, I found no works to challenge my understanding of ‘throwback’. When I shared this information with my students online, I could sense their surprise. Some of them concluded that English is a tough language that many users struggle to understand, including native speakers. I couldn’t help but agree.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a ‘throwback’ is “a person or thing that is similar to an earlier type”. This simply means making a comparison between the past and the present. Here are some example sentences from the dictionary:
He is an unappealing throwback to the days of 80s City slickers.
In some ways the new applet technology was a throwback to the old pre-PC days.
This year’s styles are throwbacks to the fashion of the 1940s.
Other examples from the Hansard archive include:
Perhaps it is a throwback to the era of shortages during and immediately after the war.
His approach and that of his party are throwbacks to his party’s policies of more than 50 years ago.
He is suffering from a throwback to the depressing, deflationary days when his party was in power, and when there was an insufficiency of enterprise.
The policeman is a throwback to the 19th century.
In a nutshell, your old pictures are not a throwback to something that existed a long time ago. If I were you, I would simply say ‘old picture’. On WhatsApp, I emphasized this lesson with the following example: “The President’s leadership style is a throwback to Abacha’s autocratic leadership.” I hope this is well understood.
‘EVERY DAY’ and ‘EVERYDAY’
One of the most commonly misused words I have observed on major social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, X) is ‘everyday’. I was surprised to discover that even an acclaimed editor made this error without regard to its meaning in a Facebook post. ‘Every day’ is a phrase that means ‘daily’ or ‘each day’. Here are some simple example sentences related to the topic at hand.
Does Femi read his books every day? (Correct)
Does Femi read his books everyday? (Incorrect)
Do they pray everyday before eating? (Incorrect)
Do they pray every day before eating? (Correct)
Muslims pray five times every day. (Correct)
Muslims pray five times everyday. (Incorrect)
The other word ‘everyday’ is an adjective that means ‘used or seen daily’. It should not be used to end your sentence. In other words, a word must follow it in your writing. For example:
We learn English for everyday conversations. (Correct)
We learn English for every day conversations. (Incorrect)
Have you noticed the word after ‘everyday’ in the above sentence?
It is grammatically incorrect to use ‘dispose’ without the preposition ‘of’ when you are getting rid of something. When a follower tried to confirm the authenticity of this lesson, she sent a message asking for clarification. This sparked my interest in consulting various sources online. Interestingly, none of them omit ‘of’ in their example sentences.
The teacher told two students to dispose the old books. (Incorrect)
The teacher told two students to dispose of the old books. (Correct)
His father ordered him to dispose the trash in the garbage can. (Incorrect)
His father ordered him to dispose of the trash in the garbage can. (Correct)
Please ______ my messages on X.
Have you seen my _______? My face has not changed.
The baby cries _______.
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Names of those who answered the last questions correctly
Yusuf Bala, Victory Daniel, Yahyah Aishat, Victor Bawa, Alade Charity, Bello Sulaimon, Okere Chigozi, Ahmed Roqeeb, Genesis Johnson, Adebayo Bukola, Banjo Victoria, Adeniji Mattew, Sultan Musa, Adeyemi Abigael, Adedigba Emmanuel, Babatunde Esther, Fiyinfoluwa Olawale, and Alimi Olive.