Nipping in the bud

Sample 1: “He urged the members of the public to report to the command any filling stations selling above pump price, promising that actions will be taking immediately.”(Fuel Scarcity: NSCDC Warns Marketers Against Hiking Pump Price, The Nation, Sunday, May 1, 2016)

Let’s focus attention on the word taking which occurs in the following context: “actions will be taking immediately.” It should be obvious that the reporter has mistaken the form taken for taking. This is a serious grammatical error resulting either from carelessness or grave ignorance. I do hope that the latter is not the case.

At any rate, for the sake of young learners reading newspapers and this page, it is important to discuss and illustrate the difference between these two forms.

There is the use as a present participle where it is preceded by a relevant form of be. What are the forms of be? They are: is, am, are, was, were, being, been, and be. The following sentences illustrate this usage: 1) We are taking a decision on the matter immediately. 2) The students are not taking us seriously because we are not taking our work seriously. 3) Why is it taking you such a long time to do the job? 4) Members of the community are taking laws into their hands. 5) The chairman is not taking the matter lightly even though the issue has been discussed fairly extensively. 6) The lecturer is taking us through the process of developing an electrical device. 7) He was taking us to his new house when the incident occurred. 8) Hungry and tired, we were taking turns at the steering. 9) Why have you not been taking your drugs? 10) The chairman has been taking the visitors round the premises.

The other context in which the ing form is used is that of the gerund—a form in which the verb has been converted to a noun by the addition of ing. The following sentences illustrate the usage of the gerundive nominal form: 1) He was commended for taking the pains to help the weak and the elderly. 2) He would remain a hero forever for taking the country out of the woods economically. 3) After taking several samples of his blood, the medical team certified that the man was totally healthy. 4) The police have been blamed for taking the innocent man into custody. 5) In taking that decision, we were guided by a sense of fairness and the interest of the company. 6) The chairman praised the management team for taking those measures that prevented the misunderstanding from snowballing into a major crisis.7) Nobody should persecute me for taking a different position. 8) The appropriate thing you should have done before taking the visitor round the premises was to take permission from the chairman.

As for the en form (taken), it occurs in the context of the perfect tense.  The following sentences illustrate the usage: 1) Why has it taken you years to complete the job? 2) I have not taken time to reflect on the matter. 3 She has taken the boy to his father. 4) How many papers have you taken today? 5) Your parents seem to have taken the matter lightly. 6) My candid opinion is that he has taken his job seriously so far. 7) The man obviously has taken interest in the affairs of the lady. 8) The president has taken the nation to a greater height. 9) The club has been taken to a new level by the incumbent chairman. 10) The issue of staff welfare has not beentaken seriously enough. 11) The decision hasbeen takenwith utmost caution. 12) The right decision hasbeen taken only after all the facts have been considered.

As a past participle, the form taken also occurs in the context of passive sentences: 1) A different position was taken by the chairman. 2) The suspect has been taken to court. 3) The matter was not taken with the seriousness it deserved. 4) The decision was not taken at the appropriate time. 5) The food was taken with milk. 6) Not surprisingly, the information was taken with a pinch of salt. 7) The problem is that wrong steps were taken at the initial stage. 8) I believe the facts are being taken for granted.

In addition note the following phrases: will be taken; can be taken; may be taken; has been taken; could have been taken; is being taken; are being taken; was taken (eg The decision was taken or He was taken round the hall); was taking (eg The chairman was taking his time).

At any rate, the clause should read: “actions will be taken immediately.”

Sample 2: “Following the rift, the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, has directed the Deputy National Chairman (South), Engnr. Segun Oni, to wade into the crisis with a view of nipping it in the bud before it escalates.” (Edo: Oshioole/Deputy Rift Threatens APC’s Chances, The Nation, Sunday, May 8, 2016)

I draw readers’ attention to the phrase, with a view of nipping. Let us note that the word nipping is in its correct form—a gerund. The only problem is with the particle—of. The appropriate particle is to. Some Nigerian users would use the particle to (quite appropriately) but would, in addition, opt for the infinitive, rather than the gerundive form of the verb: *with a view to nip in the bud. The appropriate expression is: with a view to nipping in the bud.

In other words, the expression “with a view to” must be followed by the –ing form of the verb.

But in other cases, wherever the verb is preceded by the particle to, that verb has to be in its basic, uninflected form (or the infinitive form): 1)My intention is to proceed on leave immediately. 2) They are planning to change the name of the school. 3) The soldiers decided to attack the notorious village. 4) The committee members are to consider the matter urgently. 5) The payment motivated him to work harder. 6) The sermon encouraged him to tackle the problem boldly. 7) He attempted to kill his wife. 8) She wanted to use her feminine qualities to win his heart. 9) The accountant had planned to delay the payment. 10) The lawyer has been paid to represent the two suspects.

Now compare those sentences with the following: 1) Loans and fertilizers were made available to farmers with a view to increasing agricultural yields. 2) They set forth early in the morning with a view to reaching their destination by 9 am. 3) Several checkpoints were created with a view to arresting the perpetrators of the heinous crime. 4) Two anti-corruption agencies were set up with a view to reducing bribery and corruption to the barest minimum. 6) A curfew was imposed on the town witha view to stopping the senseless blood-letting. 7) More policemen are being recruited with a view to increasing police presence in every nook and cranny of the country. 8) Infants are to enjoy free medical care with a view to reducing the infant mortality rate in the country. 9)  The accounting officer changed many of the figures with a view to perpetrating massive fraud. 10) He has been writing articles in newspapers with a view to undermining the government.