It can be argued that money and grammar do not necessarily speak the same language. For instance, had grammar and vocabulary been the magic wand for wealth, Edo State-based verbosity lord, Patrick Obahiagbon, would have been richer than Aliko Dangote. When afro juju king, Shina Peters, thus sings that ‘Grammar no be money’ in one of his albums, some people want to listen to him more than twice.
Yet, this is not to say that good English and wealth are mutually exclusive. That is why many rich people also continually embrace avenues to improve on their spoken and written English. Today’s lesson is, of course, not an argumentative essay on the relationship between proficiency and financial status. We are, instead, examining the problems associated with some expressions connected to money or financial transactions.
Between hired purchase and hire purchase
The fact that many verbal adjectives come in past tense makes a lot of people to overgeneralise. The question could be: if we have registered voter and hardened criminal, why won’t we have hired purchase? Unfortunately, the analogy does not stand. The correct expression is ‘hire purchase’ – defined as ‘a system by which one pays for a thing in regular installments while having the use of it’.
I bought the car on hired purchase. (Wrong)
I bought the car on hire purchase. (Correct)
Another widely used foul expression is ‘paying instalmentally’. It is true that ‘a sum of money due as one of several equal payments for something, spread over an agreed time’, is called an instalment. But English language frowns on turning the word into an adverb here. So, while you may have He bought it impulsively, it is wrong to say He bought it or paid for it instalmentally.
The acceptable version is He bought the product on instalments or that He is paying for it by instalments. Note that in can also be used with instalments, as in paying in instalments:
The man is paying for the house instalmentally. (Wrong)
The man is paying for the house by/in instalments. (Correct)
At all what?
When you want to do or achieve something, regardless of the price or effort demanded, you want to do it at all costs – not at all cost. You can see how this contrasts with ‘all evil’ in ‘Money is the root of all evil’. The reason is that ‘cost’ is considered countable in the expression. However, there is a similar statement that does not require the ‘s’: at any cost. Consider the following:
The politician wants to win the election at all cost. (Wrong)
The politician wants to win the election at all costs. (Correct)
The politician wants to win the election at any cost. (Correct)
You should also note that when you make money from an opportunity, you cash in on it, not catch in on it. Also, if someone accuses you of ‘highway robbery’, he may not be outright accusing you of armed robbery because the idiom captures a situation you have to pay for too much money for something.
Lastly, remember that the person or institution giving out money is the lender while the one taking it is the borrower. The same thing applies even when money is not involved:
Jide, please borrow me your cutlass. (Wrong)
Jide, please lend me your cutlass. (Correct)
Jide, can I lend your cutlass? (Wrong)
Jide, can I borrow your cutlass? (Correct)
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