English Made In Ghana: Ten Common Mistakes

Prior to colonization, every ethnic group in Ghana had its own unique dialect. These dialect made it easier for people to identify which ethnic group an individual belonged to.

Ghanaians didn’t have an official language prior to colonization. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the British through the process of colonization introduced the English Language to Ghanaians. English Language later became the official language of the country.

In Ghana, English Language is used as a medium of instruction in schools. All official announcements, publications or communique are always issued in English Language. In fact, there are parent who have switched from speaking their native tongue with their children to English Language.

Below are some identified blunders in the use of the English Language in our everyday conversations.


  1. Use of Elderly and Elder:

As adjectives, elder and elderly mean two different things. Your elder sibling is any brother or sister who is older than you.
Elderly, however, refers to the aged: Old people.
It is incorrect to say; Kojo is my elderly brother. The correct form should be; Kojo is my elder brother.

  1. So with Therefore

It is incorrect to use so with therefore at the same time. When used alone, so shows a result of an action. Therefore shares the same meaning. It thus becomes tautological to pair the words.
It is incorrect to say; Ama didn’t come, so therefore we added her money to ours. The correct form should read; Ama didn’t come, so we added her money to ours. We can equally replace the “so” with therefore.

  1. Lights Out or Light Out

Lights out is confused with blackout in Ghana. Lights out is the same as bedtime. During lights out, you switch off your lights because you have no need for them while you sleep. It always occurs at night.
A blackout is as a result of an electrical fault at the power station. You have no control over the electricity supply during a blackout. It can be at any time of the day.

So when you and your neighbours lose electricity supply, you have a blackout not lights out. When you turn off your lights to go to bed, that is lights out

Take note of the ‘s’ added to the ‘lights’.
Light out is a verb and it means to escape or run away.

[contentad widget=”604777″]

  1. Pick up the Phone

When you pick up the phone, you answer an incoming telephone call. This is not an idiom. Therefore, we can replace the ‘the’ with any appropriate pronoun of our choice.
However, the words ‘up’ and ‘phone’ should not be omitted.

It is incorrect to say; why didn’t you pick the call?. Rather you should say; why didn’t you pick up the phone?.

  1. Ease versus Ease Nature

To ease one’s self has nothing to do with removing human waste from the body. If you ease yourself, you move gently or carefully to lessen pain or uncomfortableness. If you ease something, you make way for its fluent operation. For example, I had to ease myself when two fat women sat beside me on the bus.

If it is about urinating or defecating, say you want to ease nature. For example, I went to the washroom to ease nature.

  1. Dog Chain versus Leash

A leash is a chain or belt that is used to restrain an animal, especially a dog. It is commonly called dog chains in Ghana. In formal writing or speech, there is nothing like ‘dog chain’.

  1. Full Up

To be full up means to be satisfied with taking in food or water. We gain satisfaction from fulfilling any basic need and not with food or water only. It is incorrect to say; the food was so small that it didn’t reach me. The correct form should be; the food was so small that I wasn’t full up or the food was so small that it didn’t satisfy my hunger.

  1. Fellow Colleague

It is wrong to address a person as a fellow colleague since a colleague can be described as a follow too. For example, your colleague at work is your fellow at work, fellow worker and that at school is your fellow at school, fellow pupil/student. Therefore, the word colleague should be used without fellow.

  1. Dash versus Gift

The verb dash has been given a meaning in Ghanaian English which is not yet recognized in the dictionary or formal speech. In Ghana, to dash means to give someone a gift. This meaning has made many Ghanaians ignorant of the actual meaning of the word.

If you dash, you move or run quickly. If you dash someone or something, you break or smash that one into pieces to destroy it.

Instead of dash use gift. Gift can be used as a verb to mean the same as what Ghanaians intend to say when they use dash. For example, he gifted me GH₵10.00

  1. Choose Your Choice

Your choice is what you have chosen. It is thus wrong to say choose your choice.
The expression should rather be;

Choose your option
Make your choice
Take your pick

These are few of the grammar blunders. If you’ve observed any, feel free and share it in the comment box. Don’t forget to share this post with your friends. Let’s learn together.

Compiled by:
Alpha Osei Amoako

Related Articles

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles