BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Grammar in dialogues

Just a simple greeting

Speaker A: Good morning, GAB. Happy Monday!

GAB: Good morning! Have a red-letter day, too!

Speaker A: GAB, what is red doing in your greeting now? Is red not danger?

GAB: A red-letter day is a day that is pleasantly noteworthy or memorable.

Speaker A: You should have just used ‘memorable’. I don’t like the ‘red’. So have a great day!

GAB: Noted! Do have a stupendous day, too!

Speaker A: Hai! Why does that sound like stupid?

GAB: Oh, no! Stupendous means awesome or marvellous.

Speaker A: But, GAB, you could just have said ‘marvellous’. Why do you like trouble? Anyway, have a nice day!

GAB: I wish you a terrific one, too.

Speaker A: But why are you doing this?…

Don’t date a grammarian!

Girlfriend: (Chatting) How are you?

Boyfriend: (Chatting) Fine babe.

Girlfriend: Which ‘fine babe’ are you talking about?

Boyfriend: I’m referring to you, of course.

Girlfriend: Then write ‘Fine, babe’ (which means you are fine), not ‘Fine babe’ (which means you are talking about another fine woman).

Boyfriend: Nawa o. Sha let’s eat madam. Let’s eat at our favourite spot.

Girlfriend: Which madam do you want to eat?

Boyfriend: What is this na? I mean we should eat together.

Girlfriend: Then, you should type ‘Let’s eat, madam.’ The presence of the vocative comma indicates that you want ‘madam’ to eat with you, whereas its absence means that you actually want to eat ‘madam’.

Boyfriend: This relationship cannot work.

Go and eat your grammar

Mrs Bamgbose: That guy is too lousy for my liking.

Dr GAB: Maybe you mean noisy. To be lousy is to be poor or bad.

Mrs Bamgbose: Mr Dr, you understand what I mean; he is a talkative.

Dr GAB: He is talkative or a talkative person. Adjectives aren’t preceded by the indefinite articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ unless the adjectives are succeeded by nouns.

Mrs Bamgbose: Please, don’t give me headache, Mr Man. I am not a grammarian.

Dr GAB: A headache. Headache is a countable noun and should attract the article ‘a’.

Mrs Bamgbose: Thank God it’s Saturday morning. When you finish your correction, go and have grammar as breakfast.

Dr GAB: Madam, be calming down na.

Politics or grammar: playing with the prefix ‘in’

GAB: I think General Sanni Abacha was infamous.

Friend: How will you say someone who ruled Nigeria for five years was not popular?

GAB: Well, an infamous person is actually popular, although s/he is known for bad deeds.

Friend: Ehn ehn, okay o.

GAB: But he was really invaluable in the lives of some persons.

Friend: Of course! What value can come from such a leader?

GAB: Well, to be invaluable is to be extremely useful or indispensable.

Friend: Alaye, come. Are we discussing politics or you want to be using scope to teach me English?

GAB: Well, just concentrate on the driving. The vehicle in front is inflammable.

Friend: Ehn that means it cannot catch fire na.

GAB: To be inflammable means to be flammable. What is inflammable can be easily set on fire.

Friend: Even your corrections are inflammable. Stop this trouble so we can have a smooth ride.

GAB: Okay!

Something is wrong with English

Friend: This man is our sponsorer.

GAB: Someone who sponsors anything is a sponsor; not a sponsorer.

Friend: I’m not in for your drama, GAB. Let me quickly join our sponsor where he wants to barb his hair.

Read also: ‘Zero eight zero’ or ‘Oh eight Oh’: Demystifying the use of numbers in English

GAB: Well, in this context, we have ‘barber’, not barb. When you trim or groom the hair or beards of people, you barber their hair or beards. So a barber barbers; s/he does not barb. Again, take note that since the sponsor is not a barber, the sponsor is supposed to have his hair barbered (or have his hair cut); the sponsor cannot barber his hair.

Friend: So you removed the ‘er’ that we have always known in ‘sponsorer’, then you now added it to ‘barb’ which we have said for years, right? It is either something is wrong with you, or something is wrong with English.

GAB: I guess something is wrong with English, dear friend.

Friend: I think something is wrong with the two both of you.

Breaking fast with grammar

Mrs Bamgbose: It’s 7 p.m; would you have fruits first or you want to eat?

Dr GAB: In the general sense, we say fruit, not fruits.

Mrs Bamgbose: Please, talk. I need to go and get some stuffs.

Dr GAB: Stuff, not stuffs.

Mrs Bamgbose: Ogbeni, should I make the toast bread now or later?

Dr GAB: It’s toast, not toast bread.

Mrs Bamgbose: Well, you can take cold ice water in the fridge when you’re ready.

Dr GAB: It’s ice-cold water, not cold ice water.

Mrs Bamgbose: You are not ready to break your fast (walks away).

Dr GAB: Madam, come here.

Mrs Bamgbose: Commentary ni. Use grammar to break your fast.

The troublesome grammarian

Friend: Thanks for offering your condolence as regards my dad’s demise.

GAB: You’re welcome, but we offer condolences (not, condolence).

Friend: The Christian faithfuls were present at the wake-keeping and the last rite.

GAB: The Christian faithful (not, the Christian faithfuls) were present at the wake (not wake-keeping) and the last rites (not, rite).

Friend: Oh, thanks! His remain was buried in the village.

GAB: His remains (not, remain) were (not, was) buried in the village.

Friend: Thanks! But wait o! Are you happy about my father’s death?

GAB: Ah no o! God forbid!

Friend: So why do I have to go through this stress after losing my father? And what about your father?

GAB: He’s no more.

Friend: Oh, no wonder!

Grammar and interest

Lady: Am interested in you, GAB.

GAB: I’m interested in you.

Lady: Oh, am happy is mutual.

GAB: It’s not mutual. I was correcting your use of the contractions ‘I’m’ (not, am) and ‘it’s’ (not, is).

Lady: Have never thought you could act this way.

GAB: Again, ‘I have’ is contracted as ‘I’ve’, not have.

You should be interested in grammar for now. Would you mind if I gift you with a copy of my grammar textbook, ‘Grammar in Discourse Form’?

Lady: Okay o.