• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Grammar for the season

Grammar for the season

It is in place to say compliments of the season to the readership. I hope you had a fun-filled Christmas holiday. While still in the spirit of festivity, the onus is (not “lies”) on me to acquaint my readers with some basic rules of usage relating to the season. First off, the “compliments” used for season’s greetings should not be mistaken for its variants which are “complement” and “compliment”. “Complement” is drawn from the verb “complete”, and it, therefore, means to serve as an accompaniment or a companion to something else:

Arts will always serve as a complement to science.

The other similar noun “compliment” is used as a polite expression of praise or admiration:

I take it as a compliment when people say I look like my mother.

The third one which is applicable to the season is “compliments” and should be consciously and carefully deployed as expected: Compliments of the season!

Moving on, it must be mentioned that the initial letter of “Christmas” should be capitalised whether it is used alone or it precedes another noun:

I am expecting my christmas gift (nonstandard).

I am expecting my Christmas gift (standard).

This capitalisation rule also applies to a similar noun, Yuletide. Yuletide is the period of several days around and including Christmas Day. The initial letter must be capitalised anywhere the word is used:

Let’s visit them for yuletide food and drinks (nonstandard).

Let’s visit them for Yuletide food and drinks (standard).

It must also be mentioned that the apostrophe mark is sacrosanct in “Season’s greetings”:

Season greetings from me to you (nonstandard).

Seasons greetings from me to you (nonstandard).

Season’s greetings from me to you (standard).

Also, be in the know that the first day of the calendar year which is observed as a legal holiday in many countries is called “New Year’s Day” or “New Year’s” in American English:

I will visit you on new year day (non-standard).

I will visit you on New Year’s Day (standard).

I will visit you on New Year’s (standard; American English).

As we all look forward to the new year, there is the need to set out with determination. Such a promise to do something differently in the new year is called a “New Year’s resolution”. It should be noted that it is also correct to write this phrase without the apostrophe in British English:

Her New Year’s resolution is to read more regularly (standard).

Her New Year resolution is to read more regularly (standard; British English).

While many will be going for a vigil (not a “night vigil”, since a vigil itself is a period of keeping awake during the time usually spent asleep) to pray about the New Year, it is important to set New Year’s resolutions and be determined to make them work. We cannot achieve our goals unless we are really prepared to be go-getters. Note that being very energetic and determined to be successful is to be a “go-getter” (not a “goal getter”). Being determined is not to say one will not get stuck (not “stucked”) sometimes, but you must be willing to keep trying. Inasmuch as we cannot turn the clock back, the New Year is a plain sheet for everyone to rewrite his/her story. Be in the know that to wish to return to an earlier period is to “turn the clock back”, not to “turn back the hands of time”.

While many would jump around saying, “Thank God it’s Friday” (not “Thank God is Friday”), you can spend your evening thinking about what to do better in the New Year. We must be prepared to do things as and when due in the New Year. Note that the foregoing idiomatic expression communicates doing things “as due” and “when due”, which makes it “as and when due”, not “as at when due”.

Moving forward, we must endeavour to be troubleshooters wherever we find ourselves. Note that a “troubleshooter” is not a “troublemaker”. While the former is someone whose job is to solve major problems or difficulties that occur in a company or government, the latter is someone who habitually causes difficulty or problems, especially by inciting others to defy those in authority. To be productive in the coming year, we must stay away from lousy people. With recourse to last week’s column, let me guess that you know that a lousy person is not a talkative person but someone who is unpleasant or bad at what s/he does. Still, we all need good friends to stay strong, especially during challenges, since a “problem shared is a problem halved” (not “a problem shared is half solved”). What is more, you must avoid mediocrity if you wish to achieve your goals in the New Year. The general reader should note that “mediocre” is an adjective, so a person can be labelled a “mediocrity” (a noun), not a “mediocre”. Hence, a person of mediocre ability is a mediocrity:

Avoid every mediocre in the coming year (nonstandard).

Avoid every mediocrity in the coming year (standard).

Avoid every mediocre person in the coming year (standard).

I will round off (not “round up”) this piece by wishing us all a productive and prosperous 2024. May we enjoy God’s grace in the New Year!

(c) 2023 Ganiu Bamgbose writes from the Department of English, Lagos State University.