Learn with Fun

Here’s a message doing the rounds on WhatsApp.

( THE ABSOLUTE EXACTITUDES OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR…! God bless this wonderful Mr Otunne)

This happened in England…HILARIOUS…!

Interviewer 1: So, Mr Otunne, imagine you get into the market to buy something and your customer…

Mr Otunne: My customer? I should be the customer, not the other way round, sir. A person who buys something from a shop is a customer.

Interviewer 1: That does not matter, just listen.

Mr Otunne: It matters sir. If I am to answer correctly, I need to understand you well.

Interviewer 1: As I was saying, if you go to the market and you see…

Mr Otunne: I’m afraid there is something wrong with this construction, sir. I did not go to any market…

Interviewer 2: Young man let him finish, he is trying to create an imaginary situation.

Mr Otunne: Yes, I know, that is why I said something is wrong with the construction. Since the sentence is conditional, as indicated by the use of ‘if’, the verb must be in the past. So you should say ,’If you went to the market…’

Interviewer 1: I see…, now, if you went to the market and you see…

Mr Otunne: Hmmm, Sir, I know you won’t like this, but we need to get this right before we move on. To balance the tenses of the construction, the verbs on both sides must be in the same form, the sentence should read, “If you ‘went’ to the market and you ‘saw’…”

Interviewer 1: Oh okay, thanks for the corrections.

Mr Otunne: Don’t mention it.

Interviewer 2: (stands up in anger**) What do you mean, he thanked you for your unsolicited corrections and you are saying he should not mention it?

Mr Otunne: But sir, it is a polite answer when someone has thanked you for something!

Interviewer 1: Listen, any moment from now, I’ll invite the next person and that will be the end of your session.

Mr Otunne: The idiom is ‘any moment now’, the preposition ‘from’ has no place in that idiom, idioms are fixed sir. I am very sorry.

Interviewer 2: You must be a very lousy young man; you talk too much, what is wrong with you?

Mr Otunne: I am fine sir, very fine, only that to be lousy means to be bad, it has nothing to do with being garrulous.

Interviewer 1: Just shut up, he is saying you are a talkative.

Mr Otunne: That is exactly what I am trying to say sir. You don’t say one is a talkative, the word ‘talkative’ is an adjective and should not be used with an article like ‘a’. The right thing to say is ‘you are talkative’. When, however, a noun comes after ‘talkative’, we may use an article: You are a talkative person.

The Chairman of the interview panel Professor Canterbury walks in, exchanges pleasantries with interviewers 1 and 2

Interviewer 1: (talking to Professor Canterbury)You are a godsent, this man here …

Mr Otunne: Sorry to interrupt again…

Interviewer 2: Will shut up and listen!

Professor Canterbury: Allow him to talk, I want to hear him, young man, what is the problem?

Mr Otunne: The only problem, for now, is that he said you are a godsent, that is very wrong. ‘Godsent’ is an adjective, I have explained this before, it should not be preceded by an article, except a noun comes after it. He should say ‘you are godsent’, or you are a godsent man’, this is the problem sir.

Professor Canterbury: Okay, that’s fine, let us now start from the scratch.

Mr Otunne: But sir, the idiom is ‘from scratch’ not ‘from the scratch’, the definite article ‘the’ is not present in the idiom. I am very sorry sir.

Interviewer 1: Listen, this is not a child’s play, you have to keep quiet and let this interview continue.

Mr Otunne: Okay sir, only that I was going to say that the idiom is ‘child’s play’, not ‘a child’s play’, but I won’t say that, looks like you are very angry with me right now.

Professor Canterbury: Mr Justice…

Mr Otunne: (cuts in with a raised finger) Mr Otunne, sir!

Professor Canterbury: Okay, Mr Otunne, I am in a haste, so save me some stress.

Mr Otunne: Okay sir, I pledge not to stress you, I’ll only stress that you should say you are ‘in haste’ not ‘in a haste’, you may be in a hurry, but not in a haste.

Professor Canterbury: Hmmm (heaves a sigh) Now, as regard what they…

Mr Otunne: Sorry, as regards, not as regard, I am very sorry sir.

Professor Canterbury: What did you say your name is again?

Mr Otunne: What I said my name was?

Professor Canterbury: But you heard me, answer the question.

Mr Otunne: You have been calling me by name all along sir, I am Otunne.

Professor Canterbury: Otu..nne, (trying to pronounce it) what does it mean?

Mr Otunne: It means one mother. Otu is one, nne is mother.

Professor Canterbury: (signals to a lady by the side) write his name with pencil, I want it to be distinct from others.

Mr Otunne: But Sir, you write in pencil, not with pencil, I am sorry.

Professor Canterbury: Young man, we are through with you. You will hear from us soon, you may leave now.

Mr Otunne: (stands up, file clutched under the armpit, walks slowly to the door, opens it and leaves)

Interview 1: (whispering to professor Canterbury and interviewer 2) My God! I was at loss for word.

Mr Otunne: (from the window) Sorry sir, not knowing what to do or say is to be ‘at a loss for words’, not at ‘loss for words’