• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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My end-of-year grammar note

Grammaticality versus acceptability: The nexus

It is essential to extend my felicitations to all readers of my column on the rare fortune of being alive on the last day of 2021. Let me remind you that when used to wish someone or a number of people happiness or to show approval, the presence of ‘s’ in ‘felicitations’ is sacrosanct:

I offer everyone my felicitation (non-standard).

I offer everyone my felicitations (standard).

Further, it is imperative to note that the noun, ‘felicitations’, is decidedly plural. On the strength of that, it aligns perfectly with plural verbs in sentence constructions thus:

The felicitations is extended to my mother (non-standard).

The felicitations are extended to my mother (standard).

Not only that, keep in mind that just as you would not say, ‘I congratulate with you’, the preposition, ‘with’, should not be used with the verb ‘felicitate’. In other words, felicitate is transitive in this context, as exemplified in the sentences below:

I felicitate with all my followers on the fortune of being alive (non-standard).

I felicitate all my followers on the fortune of being alive (standard).

Moving on, the inappropriate usage of some words has made one wonder if some persons are showering praises on the season (compliment of the season) or asking that the season be completed by another phenomenon (complement of the season) or actually expressing season’s greetings (compliments of the season). It, thus, is crucial to use the right word to avoid a wrong meaning. The general reader should equally note that the expression used as a greeting during the Christmas period, especially on cards, is ‘season’s greetings’ (with the obligatory apostrophe and an ‘s’ after ‘season’, plus an obligatory ‘s’ after greeting). Also, 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).

Read also: Demystifying voice in English

Also, a promise to do something differently in the new year is called a ‘New Year’s resolution’. Indeed, it is absolutely critical (not ‘very critical’) to incorporate the capitalisation and the apostrophe into the noun phrase:

Her new year resolution is to read more regularly (non-standard).

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

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. 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’). In the same breath, you must avoid mediocrities 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’, not ‘a mediocre’. Hence, a person of mediocre ability is a mediocrity:

Avoid every mediocre in the coming year (non-standard).

Avoid every mediocrity in the coming year (standard).

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

I wish us all a happy, productive and prosperous New Year!