By dint of…

Sample 1: “Accusing the former president of abuse of power during his reign, he regretted that by killing some of the business interests of the former governor, including banks, airline, oil blocks, which forced Kalu to relocate them to other countries, Nigerians were denied of employment benefits to the advantage of the nationals of the other foreign countries.”(Obasanjo was Undemocratic, Unfair to Kalu,The Sunday Sun, March 20, 2016)

The only reason for bringing this excerpt to your attention is the expression denied of which occurs in the following context: “Nigerians were denied of employment benefits.” Requiring special attention is the particle of following the participle denied directly. It would appear that the usage of the verb deny is confused with that of deprive. It is important to note that although the verb deprive takes the particle of, the verb deny does not.

Actually, some words and expressions commonly confused are: deny, deprive of, prevent from, and forestall.

The verb forestall, let us note, does not take any particle at all. Here are examples of the usage of the verbforestall: 1) The police presence is to forestall any possibility of the wild boys harassing the girls. 2) To forestall the famous scorer penetrating the front easily, two strong defence players should be arranged to tackle him. 3) To forestall an epidemic, we decided to disinfect the house. 4) To forestall a breakdown of law and order, two teams of policemen were put on patrol. 5) To forestall the Governor refusing the application, two delegates were sent ahead to plead with him. 6) The government constituted a panel that would have a dialogue with the representatives of the labour union to forestall a nationwide protest. 7) He put another lawyer on standby to forestall a situation in which no lawyer would be there to represent him. 8) To forestall a fire disaster all bowls containing petrol should be removed far from the house.

The following sentences illustrate the usage of the verb prevent: 1) Children were prevented from going out after 7pm every day. 2) Journalists were preventedfrom taking pictures of the gory sight. 3) Through pressure and blackmail, the president was preventedfrom taking decisions that could jeopardize the electoral process. 4) In Yoruba land, women are prevented from witnessing certain ritual practices. 5) The firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to the adjoining fuel station. 6) It was the presence of the chairman that prevented the complaints from degenerating into public riots.

In each of those sentences, the verb prevents collocates with the particle from.

Like forestall, the verb deny does not take any particle. Some Nigerian users of English have developed the habit of attaching the particle of to the verb, not realizing that it does not take any particle at all. Now read the following sentences: 1) Unfortunately, many departments were denied accreditation by the National Universities Commission (NUC). 2) People with suspicious appearance were denied access to the hall. 3) Freedom of Information Bill is to guarantee that members of the public are not denied vital information. 4) Having been denied his own share of the profit, he headed for court.  5) No bank has the right to deny anybody access to his money. 6) The lawyer complained that the suspect was sentenced unfairly because he was denied legal representation.

In none of those sentences is the word deny allowed to be followed by the particle of or by any particle for that matter.

Now compare those sentences with the following in which the verb deprive is used: 1) People who are deprived of their rights are free to go to court. 2) It is wrong to deprive children of their meals as a form of punishment. 3) No child should be deprived of education simply because his/her parents are financially handicapped. 4) Children that are deprived of motherly care will grow up to become maladjusted adults. 5) The governor has promised that rural areas would no longer be deprived of the amenities available in the cities. 6) The lady is seeking divorce on the grounds that she has been deprived of love.

At any rate, the particle of should be deleted in the context under review.

Sample 2: “She said with a dint of sadness, ‘I was just 25 years old and I was taken to the General Hospital in Sagamu…”(Our Sad, Happy Tales, By People Living with Spinal Cord Injuries, The Nation, Sunday, May 8, 2016)

We pay attention to the word dint which occurs in the expression: a dint of sadness. The word dint is an inappropriate choice. It is obvious that the reporter has no idea of the appropriate use of the word.

There are two other idioms in English that are similar in meaning to by dint of. These are: by virtue of and invirtue of.

Now read the following sentences: 1) He secured that job by virtue of his knowledge of French. 2) He is loved by everyone by virtue of his humility. 3) He was able to stay for so long in England by virtue of his citizenship of that country. 4) The General Manager earned a third term in office by virtue of his managerial acumen. 5) The new newspaper took over the market within a short time by virtue of high quality package and production. 6) Wole Soyinka won the Nobel Prize for literature by virtue of a highly fertile imagination and profound language. 7) He became prominent in the political party by virtue ofcraftiness and patience. 8) Mohammadu Buhari became the president of Nigerian by virtue of integrity and transparency. 9) He became a billionaire by virtue of talent and sheer industry. 10) He was able to gain the hearts of many people in the town by virtue of generosity.

Again, read the following sentences: 1) The lady became a judge of the Supreme Court by dint of hard work and determination. 2) By dint of threats and bullying, he became the leader of the gang. 3) We were able ward off the spiritual attacks by dint of relentless prayer. 4) I survived the economic hard times by dint of frugality and severe self-denial. 5) The family overcame the limiting forces of poverty by dintof strategic thinking and determination.  6) He escaped being killed by armed robbers by dint of vigilance.