Assessing/accessing, bother/border

SAMPLE 1: “Wahab said the state government is accessing the situation and that on Sunday, a decision will be taken whether to shut down the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Michael Otedola College of Primary Education, Epe and other state-owned institutions.”(Coronavirus: FG orders federal tertiary institutions, unity colleges closed, The Sun, Thursday, 19 March, 2020)

The word we focus on is accessing which occurs in the context, “the state government is accessing the situation”. The reporter has confused the word assess with access, a function of poor pronunciation and poor spelling. We have repeatedly advised readers to be attentive to slight differences in pronunciation and spelling that communicate lexical and semantic differences. In English, many times it does not require more than the presence or absence of a single letter in this or that position for a lexical item to transform into another word. Anyone who is not sensitive to these instances of lexical morphing is still a stranger to the English language.

Yes, there is a major difference between access and assess, significant enough to make them two words.

Capable of being used as a noun and a verb, the word access means having opportunity or right to use a thing, acquire a thing, enter a place, etc.: (1) The business is not expanding because the owner does not have access to sufficient funds. (2) In spite of the media hype, the masses have no access to the low-cost houses. (3) The only access to the village is through a bumpy, dusty road. (4) Close to half a century of its existence, many people around the world still have no access to the email. (5) For more than two weeks now, I have not been able to access my mail. (6) Even Ministers do not have direct access to the president. (7) Three years after the divorce, the man has no access to his children. (8) Only by special permission can the room be accessed through that door. (9) For the country to make great strides in agriculture, farmers must have access to fertilizers and expansive land. (10) The man’s situation is worsened by the fact that he has no access to his lawyer.

Now the word assess is about evaluating, examining, trying to understand a situation, etc. It is a verb, whose noun form is assessment: (1) Experts are assessing the effects of the erosion on the environment. (2) The committee members will soon begin to assess the facts before them. (3) She says she is in the process of assessing how much love the man has for her. (4) Before the loans can be released, representatives of the bank will need to assess your production capability. (5) The purpose of our visit is to assess your facilities comparing them with the claims you make in the documents. (6) You cannot effectively tackle your political enemies without first assessing their strengths and weaknesses. (7) Before the Doctor can undertake to treat him, he must assess the extent of the damage done by the quack Doctor. (8) It is the duty of the Vehicle Inspection Officers to assess the road-worthiness of all vehicles. (9) An engineer from the Federal Ministry of Works is here to assess the quality and extent of work done so far. (10) My assessment of him is that he is an intelligent but pompous man.

At any rate, the present participleassessing should replace accessing in the context under examination: “the state government isassessing the situation”.

Sample 2: “His appointment will among other things involve handling issues bothering on infringements on the rights of cartoonists across West Africa, organizing workshops and encouraging young talents.”(CRNI appoints The Sun cartoonist regional representative, Sunday Sun, 8 March, 2020)

The word whose form and meaning are striking is bothering which occurs in the following context: “handling issuesbothering on infringements on the rights.”  This is a strange piece of communication and the strangeness derives from the more than curious use of the lexeme bothering in the context. It is obvious that the reporter has betrayed a failure to differentiate usefully between the lexemes border and bother, a failure emanating from a glaring pronunciation weakness.

This is not the first time we have complained about our public writers’ inability to effectively differentiate between the sound represented in writing as –th and that represented as –d. It is this failure that lies at the heart of their failure to differentiate between border and bother. What is the difference between these words?

The word bother, let us note, has to do with emotional trouble, distress of the soul, anxiety about a person or thing. Please read the following sentences: 1) Many parents are bothered when their children do not seem to be making satisfactory progress in their academic work. 2) The miserable state of power supply in Nigeria should bother any responsible government. 3) I have deliberately refrained from bothering you with my financial challenges. 4) The health condition of the boy has been a source of perpetual bother to the father. 5) The constant clashes between farmers and the Fulani herdsmen are a bother to the state governments concerned.

When we say something borders on another thing, we mean the former is almost the same as the latter, is not completely different from the latter, is as good or as bad as the latter. Let’s read the following sentences: 1) The patient suffers from a delirium that borders on insanity. 2) They live in a financial condition that borders on absolute poverty. 3) After four years in the university, many students still demonstrate a level of competence in the use of English that borders on illiteracy. 4) The conflicts and disagreements between the two countries have degenerated to a level that borders on a state of war. 5) The dubious calculations border on fraud. 6) The frozen relationship between the couple borders on separation or even divorce.

The word border can also be used as a noun: 1)A huge tree marks the border between the two towns. 2) The woman with the issue of blood touched the border of the garment of Jesus. 3) The American president-elect has said he will erect a massive fence on the border between America and Mexico. 4) There is a dispute over the border between the two communities. 5) It is the duty of the Immigration and Police Officers to patrol the borders. 6) Illicit trade usually takes place in border towns. 7) The President has complained that our borders are porous. 8) Illegal immigrants cross the border freely.

At any rate, the word bordering should replace bothering in the context under review.


peaking mistakes you’re most likely making as an English,or a second language speaker (I)


Incorrect: At the party, I didn’t meet nobody.

Correct: At the party, I didn’t meet anybody.



Incorrect: She lives with she’s father.

Correct: She lives with her father.


Of come/have come

Incorrect: I would of come if I had a car.

Correct: I would have come if I had a car.



Incorrect: I loaned the book from the library.

Correct: I borrowed the book from the library.



Incorrect: I am in the third grade of college. My little brother is in the third year of school.

Correct: I am in the third year of college. My little brother is in the third grade of school.


Irregular plurals

Incorrect: I saw two deers in the woods. My foots hurt.

Correct: I saw two deer in the woods. My feet hurt.


Confusion over wording of idiom

Incorrect: The boss told me to dot my t’s and cross my i’s.

Correct: The boss told me to dot my i’s and cross my t’s.


Was/were after “if” and “wish”

Incorrect: If I was going to the movies … I wish I was seeing an action thriller. Correct: If I were going to the movies … I wish I were seeing an action thriller.


Answering a common expression with a question

Incorrect: “See you later!” “When?”

Correct: “See you later!” “Sure, good bye!”


Confusion over gender

Incorrect: My mother will be coming to America. He is excited.

Correct: My mother will be coming to America. She is excited.



Incorrect: They cooked dinner by themself.

Correct: They cooked dinner by themselves.



Incorrect: Is that chair convenient for you? Is it comfortable that I come over to your apartment?

Correct: Is that chair comfortable for you? Is it convenient that I come over to your apartment?








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