Emphasizing…

Sample 1: “Although all efforts to get official military confirmation were unsuccessful, a very reliable military source in Delta confirmed that seven suspects were arrested in the early-hour operation, adding that recovery of explosives, arms and ammunition were also made.”(Pipeline Bombings: Tompolo on Fire, The Sun, Sunday, 29 May, 2016)

We are interested in identifying the subject of the verbwere which occurs in the following context: “recovery of explosives, arms and ammunition were made.” This is a matter of concord. Note that even in this relatively short paragraph, the reporter has demonstrated sufficient familiarity with the principle of concord.

For example in the clause, “all efforts to get official military confirmation were unsuccessful”, the plural verb-form, were, correctly reflects the plural nominal subject, “all efforts.” Similarly, in the clause “seven suspects were arrested,” the choice of the verb-form,were, is in consonance with the plural noun, suspects.

Now let’s go back to the clause under examination: “recovery of explosives, arms and ammunition were made.” We have noted the choice of the plural verb-form, were. The question is this: Where is/are the plural noun(s) that influenced the reporter’s choice of the plural verb-form? To the immediate left of that verb we have three nouns, two of which are in the plural: explosives, arms, and ammunition. That these nouns together constitute a plural entity is beyond question. The issue that should concern us is whether those nouns, severally or collectively, should be allowed to influence the choice of the verb-form. The ‘voice’ of my grammatical education tells me that the appropriate noun that should guide our choice of the verb is recovery. This, of course, is singular. That being the case, the verb should be changed to its singular form: was.

Sample 2: “She will also do herself a favour by not emphasizing on gender as this could boomerang.”(Between the Olympics and Hillary, The Sun, Sunday, May 8, 2016)

The only reason for bringing this excerpt to your attention is the error found in the phrase, emphasizing on. The particle on is intrusive.Some Nigerians have this habit of allowing the particle on to collocate with the verb emphasize. They would say, “The chairman emphasized *on the need for probity in the handling of the company’s affairs.” The proper thing to say is: “The chairman emphasized the need for probity in the handling of the company’s affairs.” Other defective sentences and their corrected versions are as follows: Defective: The professor emphasized *on the importance of regular reading as a means of developing one’s capacity. Corrected version: The professor emphasized the importance of regular reading as a means of developing one’s capacity. Defective: The doctor emphasized *on the need for exercise as a way of maintaining a healthy body. Corrected version: The doctor emphasized the need for regular exercise as a way of maintaining a healthy body. Defective: The guest lecturer encouraged the developing African nations to emphasize *on mechanized agriculture as a means of guaranteeing food security. Corrected version: The guest lecturer encouraged the developing African nations to emphasizemechanized agriculture as a means of guaranteeing food security. Defective: This regime is emphasizing *on training and re-training of staff. Corrected version: This regime is emphasizing training and re-training of staff. Defective: The instructor emphasized *on the need to maintain a clean and hygienic environment. Corrected version: The instructor emphasized the need to maintain a clean and hygienic environment.

Readers should note that although the verb emphasize does not take the particle on, the noun emphasis does. Please read the following sentences: 1) The new regime places emphasis on probity and accountability. (Compare: The new regime emphasizes probity and accountability.) 2) The emphasis in the western world is on increased technology. (Compare: The western world emphasizes increased technology.) 3) The emphasis here is on herbal medicine (Compare: Here we emphasize herbal medicine.) 4) The workshop will place emphasis on the participants’ ability to pronounce words correctly. (Compare: The workshop will emphasize the participants’ ability to pronounce words correctly.) 5) This government is placing emphasis on security. (Compare: This government is emphasizing security.) 6) Any training in English should lay emphasis on clarity of expression. (Compare: Any training in English should emphasize clarity of expression.)

Similarly, some users confuse the particle/preposition that should go with the verb prepare (or its noun preparation) with the one that goes with the adjective preparatory. They would say, preparatory for instead of preparatory to. Read the following sentences: 1a) We are preparing for exams. b) We have bought materials in preparation for exams. C) Materials have been bought preparatory to exams. 2a) We are preparingfor the construction work. b) We have cleared the site in preparation for the construction work. C) We have cleared the site preparatory to the commencement of construction work. 3a) INEC is preparing for elections. b) INEC has been procuring materials in preparation for elections. C) INEC has been procuring materials preparatory to the elections. 4a) We are preparingfor the meeting. b)The hall has been tidied up in preparation for the meeting. c) The hall has been tidied up preparatory to the meeting. 5) a) I am preparing for resumption. b) I have bought new books in preparation for resumption. c) I have bought new books preparatory to resumption. 6) a) The Super Eagles are preparing for the match.  b) The Super Eagles have gone to the camp in preparation for the match. c) The Super Eagles have gone to the camp preparatory to the match.

Note the following: prepare for; preparation for; preparatory to.

A similar error is noted in the expression: solicit *for. The verb solicit, let us note, does not need the particle for. Please read the following sentences: 1) The boys went out soliciting help for their sick mother. 2) Orphanages are allowed to solicit funds by law. 3) There is no law permitting beggars to solicit money. 4) Like individuals, nations can solicit aid from other nations. 5 Soliciting help takes something away from a person’s dignity. 6) Students should feel free to solicit books from publishing companies.

As another example, some Nigerians would say : “at the verge of…” instead of: “on the verge of…” Please read the following sentences: 1) I came into the country on theverge of the general elections. 2) Now that the company is on the verge of economic breakthrough, nothing should be done to reverse its fortune. 3) The world seems to be on the verge of inventing the vaccine for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). 4) The Security Council intervened at the appropriate time: the country was then on theverge of anarchy. 5) The help came at a time I was on the verge of bankruptcy. 6) War broke out on theverge of independence of the country.

The verb form also takes the particle on: 1) The delirious outbursts verge on lunacy. 2) The expression of doubt verges on malicious suspicion. 3) His condition verges on absolute poverty. 4) Her level of education verges on illiteracy. 5) The hedging vergeson dishonesty. 6) The man’s spiritual condition vergeson apostasy.

The verb border also takes the particle on and is synonymous with verge on: 1) His insensitivity borderson misanthropy. 2) The happy-go-lucky attitude borders on laziness. 3) Your attitude to your friend’s success borders on jealousy. 4) The way he has been hiding information on the matter borders on insincerity. 5) The man’s consistent refusal to obey his seniors borders on rebellion. 6) The insurgency borders on national insecurity.