Many errors in English are the result of using words that are not suitable to the context in which they are used. Often this means confusing two words that have similar meanings. These are errors of lexis and we shall examine them by looking in turns at nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. So get your note pads and pens ready.
1. ALPHABETS AND LETTERS
WRONG: many English words contain more than ten alphabets.
CORRECT: many English words contain more than ten letters.
An alphabet is a list of the letters which are used to make up the words of a language.
The English alphabet contains 26 letters.
2. AMOUNT WRONGLY USED
WRONG: I obtained some amount from my father and was able to settle all my debts.
CORRECT: I obtained some money from my father and was able to settle all my debts.
An amount simply means a quantity. We can speak of ‘an amount of paper’, ‘an amount of work’ etc. Do not use ‘amount’ without saying what it is an amount of.
3. DRESSES AND CLOTHES
WRONG: All his dresses were destroyed in the fire.
CORRECT: All his clothes were destroyed in the fire.
‘Dresses’ are garments worn by women, covering both the upper and the lower parts of the body. ‘Clothes’ (a plural with no singular) are garments in general.
4. KILO WRONGLY USED
WRONG: From here to the next big town is 45 kilos.
CORRECT: From here to the next big town is 45 kilometres.
The abbreviation ‘kilo’ should only be used of ‘kilogram’ not of ‘kilometre’, for example
She bought five kilos of onions.
5. MUM, MUMMY, MOTHER
WRONG: ‘How is your mummy?’ the young accountant asked his old teacher.
CORRECT: ‘How is your mother?’ the young accountant asked his old teacher.
‘Mum’ and ‘mummy’ are endearing ways of addressing or referring to a mother, but ‘mummy’ is used by small children, and sounds ridiculous when used by an older person referring to the mother of another older person. ‘Mum’ can be used between equal who are close friends.
Distinguish between the use of ‘dad’ and ‘daddy’ and ‘father’ in the same way.