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Common errors students make

Sun, 11 November 2012 21:25
by Heziwell Mhunduru
Education

“Most students they panic during an examination. I am having a lot of learners who sit quitely in their class as if their studying yet its just panic. If you think there is something wrong with this sentences than your right.” Oops! What have I just said?
Although these sentences are littered with a plethora of errors, to an average learner, they may sound correct.
If we took our socio-linguistic background into cognisance as a nation - which I will not delve into in this forum - it would be understandable why such errors exist.
However, this should not lull us to sit on our laurels and watch but we should endeavour to reverse the situation. Currently, the situation is largely a cyclical transfer of errors creating a serious re-infection between the teacher and the learner. This has given rise to what I would term as “fossilised errors”, which [even] some English teachers of may not readily detect.
If something is in progress as we speak, that is when we may use “having”. For example: “We are having tea/lunch/a lesson/a lecture.”
If we mean to own or possess or simply have in the hand or pocket or satchel, then we use “have” and not “having”. The following sentences are wrong and should be avoided: Teacher: Who is having a ruler? Learner: I am having, sir.
“The oldest man in our village is having many cattle.” We should rather say: Who has a ruler? “I have sir.” “The oldest man in our village has many cattle.”
When we mean the four walls where learners are housed we should use the word “classroom” and not “class”, since “class” refers to the learners themselves.
Also, the examiner always complains about the misuse and misspelling of “a lot” and it appears our learners are addicted to this construction. For starters, “a lot” is informal and should not be used when writing a report, article or formal letter. Secondly, these are two words “a lot” and not “alot.”
SMS language is fast creeping in at an alarming rate. “You are right.” This is the correct way of writing it and if one wants to use the contracted form then it would be, “You’re right” but quite often we read “Your right”, which is wrong, because “your” shows possession or ownership for example; “Your book.”
We also have to bear in mind that mistakes are not done but made, hence: “Sir, I have done a mistake here, may you give me another answer sheet”. This should rather be: “I have made a mistake.” This goes hand in hand with the following: “Sir, may you help me a ruler” where the crucial preposition “with” is often left out. It should read “help me with a ruler.”
We often hear or read the following: “I use to see him every day because he use to visit the school daily” where the speaker intends to use the present simple tense to express what happens every day. For starters, the construction should be “used to” and secondly, it is used to describe something that was some time ago but no longer is.
In 2008 Mary and Indila were good friends but now, in 2012 they are no longer that close; we may say, “Mary and Indila used to be good friends.” Even if the sentence ends there, it still communicates to the listener/reader that the two are no longer friends. If the situation still obtains, then we use the present simple tense e.g.; “I see him every day because he visits the school daily.”
We also encounter the unnecessary repetition of the subject. For example in the first sentence. The subject is “most students” and using the pronoun “they” will be repetition since the most basic function of a pronoun is to take the place of a noun. So, next time we talk or write, we should not say: “My teacher she likes bananas” but rather “My teacher likes bananas” or “She likes bananas.”
“Ndamona is more faster than Loide.” The writer should just have said, “Nangula is faster than” (Take note, it is not “then” but “than”). We usually use “more” when dealing with adjectives with three or more syllables e.g.; “Ndamona is more beautiful than Loide.” This is not a fixed rule, however.
“My father returned back from Swakopmund last night.” The writer could have chosen either: “My father came back OR My father returned from...”
“I do not know what they are discussing about” should either be “I do not know what they are discussing OR talking about.” We never discuss about anything, but we just discuss it e.g.  “Let us discuss History.”
Naturally, if something is already yours, you do not buy it, otherwise who will receive the money and who will give the money? Check this: “When I get money, I will buy my car.” My must be replaced by “a.”
Another problem construction is when we talk about bathing. “After dinner, I washed my body.” We can wash plates but not our bodies. We should rather say: “After dinner, I bathed/showered/took a bath/had a bath/had a shower/took a shower. One can still say “I washed myself.”
Learners often say “I did not come with my book” instead of “I did not bring my book.” If it comes on its own then you can use “come with” e.g.; “I came with my dog.”