Speak good English: Tips for WASSCE 2013

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

Last week we began looking at some of the tricky questions in the WASSCE English Language Paper Two (2), the objective test.

I did make four observations concerning the objective test before I began discussing prepositions. I hope you remember those observations and what I said about prepositions and the verbs which go with them.

This week we are going to look at more prepositions and the verbs which take those prepositions.

The verb congratulate takes the preposition on, not for, as many people are wont to say or write.

Example: We congratulated our classmate on winning the contest.

We also write or say wave at, not wave to, as in: The President waved at the schoolchildren.

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If one throws a stone at another person, the intention is to hurt or injure that person, but if one throws something to another person, that thing is meant for that person, not to hurt him or her.

Example: The demonstrating students threw stones at the police.

Immediately the goalkeeper caught the ball, he threw it to one of his teammates.

Note that we converse with other people; we associate ourselves with others or what they say; we are conversant with a tool, machine etc; we wait for a person or thing, but wait on a person (as in serving him or her in a restaurant or bar); we are accustomed to something; familiar with a person or situation.

We keep or stay abreast of developments (not with); we create awareness of a problem or situation;  we are alive to our responsibilities; we initiate somebody into a group etc; we rub shoulders with others; one is charged with (not for) an offence; we fight against somebody (that is, take part in a war or struggle); fight for (that is, to take part in a contest), fight with (that is, to hit, kick or bite another person or thing).

Examples: France has no intention to fight against Britain over the diplomatic issues.

 His desire is to fight for the parliamentary seat in the next elections.

The demonstrators fought with the police.

Note also that one is admitted to school or hospital, while one gains admission to a place or school.

We enter into an agreement and gain entry to a place. We sensitise someone to a situation or development.

Note again that we suffer from an ailment and die of it if we do not get cured.

Example: Hugo Chavez died of cancer, from which he’d been suffering since 2010.

Practise with these questions to determine how you have grasped today’s lesson.

• The workshop is to sensitise the new prefects ------- their responsibilities.

 (a) on   (b) to  (c) about  (d)  towards

• Teachers must keep abreast ------- new developments in their areas of specialisation.

 (a) with (b) by  (c) of (d) by

• My friend has gained admission -------- a school in Cape Coast.

(a) into (b) in  (c) inside  (d) to

• In Africa, many children die ------- malaria.

(a) from  (b) of  (c) by  (d) for

• Are you familiar ------- Shakespeare’s sonnets?

(a) to (b) with  (c) by  (d) on