Concord and seating capacity

TODAY we continue the analysis of the excerpt featured in this place last week. The excerpt is retained as sample 1.

Sample 1: “From the economy to our social life and religion, the Coronavirus has upturned everything. The economy has been grounded to a halt…We are only building churches, flaunting wealth, building auditoriums of 1 million sitting capacity…Hopefully by the time the ban on churches and mosque activities are lifted within the next couple of weeks, the anger and resentment within the group would begin to dissipate.”(Shutdown of churches: Why many pastors are not happy with Pastor Adeboye, Olukoya and others, Opera News Hub, Sunday, 24 May, 2020)

We consider the following chunk: “by the time the ban on churches and mosque activities are lifted within the next couple of weeks.” I draw readers’ attention to the plural verb-form (are) following the noun activities directly. As we have hinted, the verb (are) is in its plural form. The most likely reason for the reporter’s choice of the plural form of the verb is the presence of the contiguous plural noun (activities). In addition, he probably considered the cumulative plurality of the nouns mosque and churches in his decision to opt for the plural form of the verb. Our argument in favour of the writer’s choice of the plural verb-form is logically sound except that it falls outside the logic of the grammar of the structure under consideration. We must always confine ourselves to the logic of the structure being considered or scrutinized in making grammatical choices.

A close and intelligent scrutiny of the structure would reveal that the key noun item is the word ban separated, as it is, by many words from the verb slot. The fact that it is so distant from the verb slot does not alter or vary its relationship with the verb. The noun ban being singular requires the choice of a singular verb form: “by the time the ban…is lifted…” and not: “by the time the ban…*are  lifted….” Please notice that we have ignored all the intervening words between the noun ban and the verb-form.

By the way, the word churches in the structure must be in its singular form, just like mosque: “by the time the ban on church and mosque activities is lifted…” You should resist the temptation of choosing the plural verb-form (are) because of the contiguous plural noun, activities, which is not relevant to concord matters.

However, the plural verb-form is appropriate in the following structures: “by the time church and mosque activities are allowed to resume…”; “by the time church and mosque activities are in full swing…”; “by the time church and mosque activities are revived…”

Next, I draw your attention to the expression sitting capacity which occurs in the structure: “1 million sitting capacity.” The form sitting in this phrase is inappropriate. The appropriate form is seating. The various forms that should interest us are: sit, sitting, sat, seat, seated, and seating.

Let’s illustrate their usage in turn: (1) He has been sitting there all day, expecting the news of his parents’ arrival. (2) If he wasn’t sitting down, he was pacing the room anxiously. (3) He was sitting in his usual chair, watching the television. (4) Nobody can sit down until the president has done so. (5) After pacing for a few minutes, he sat down holding his chin ruefully. (6) I have not sat down because you have not asked me to sit down. (7) Janet sat beside her husband. (8) We all sat down as soon as the Chairman left the hall.

In those eight sentences, please note the forms sit (the basic form); sat (the past simple form); has/have sat (the past participle); and sitting (the continuous form). It is especially important to note that the form seating does not feature at all. Why? Because it cannot be used in its continuous form. There is the form seating, yes; but it does not belong to the context of the eight sentences constructed above.

Now read the following sentences: (1) You can now be seated. (2) Seated in one corner of the room was one gentleman who seemed not to be a part of what was going on. (3) In this congregation, women are seated separately from the men. (4) Before seating yourself at the desk, you have to tidy up the room. (5) Husbands and wives are seated close to each other. (6) All guests should be seated before the governor arrives. (7) Guests were seated in groups of four. (8) I don’t like to be seated close to the window.

Next, read the following sentences: (1) All the seats have been occupied by our visitors. (2) It is only the person driving that can sit in the driver’s seat. (3) I usually prefer to sit in the passenger’s seat. (4) Please take a seat. (5) What used to be comfortable seats are now in bad shape. (6) Abuja is the seat of the Federal Government of Nigeria. (7) Only five seats remain unoccupied in the plane. (8) You have up till tomorrow to book your seat. (9) Are universities still regarded as seats of learning? (10) Two people can join me in the back seat. (11) The front seats are reserved for the VIPs. (12) The brain is the seat of human reasoning just as the heart is the seat of emotion. (13) The Senator’s seat has been declared vacant by the leadership of the Senate. (14) The court has instructed the chairman to vacate his seat immediately. 15) He is perhaps the most controversial person to have occupied this sensitive seat. 16) The presidential seat is the most exalted in the land.

Finally, read the following sentences: (1) The hall can seat one hundred people. (2) The theatre has a seating capacity of 500. (3) The protocol officer will take care of the seating arrangement. (4) The expansion will increase the seating capacity of the building. (5) Seating plans can be very challenging in situations like this. (6) The seating plan may change if some other big men decide to come.

Now note the following: You do not say: *”My father was *seating close to my mom”. You should say: “My father was sitting close to my mom. Do not say: *”I was *seating in the driver’s seat”. You should say: “I was sitting in the driver’s seat”. Do not say: *”Be *sitted”. You should say: “Be seated”. Do not say: *”I was *sitted close to my uncle”. You should say: “I was seated close to my uncle”.

Do not say: *”What is the sitting capacity of the hall?” You should say: “What is the seating capacity of the hall?” Do not say: *”The protocol officer is in charge of the *sitting arrangement”. You should say: “The protocol officer is in charge of the seating arrangement.”



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