Consolidating Concord

cannotSample 1: “Interesting, you may say, but how long will such tactics work? Isn’t she sitting on a keg of gunpowder? This were the fears raised by panelists, as Nneka anchored her narrative.”(When the Home Becomes a Warfront, The Nation, Sunday, 11 March, 2018).

I draw readers’ to the phrase, this were which occurs in the clause: “This were the fears raised by panelists.” The demonstrative pronoun (this) is clearly in its singular form. It should be clear as well that the verb-form following it (were) is in its plural form. Here, then, is a case in which the subject is singular and the verb plural, an instance of a breach of the principle of grammatical concord. It should be of interest to us too that the elements immediately preceding the demonstrative pronoun are cumulatively plural. Equally remarkable is the fact that the complement of the verb is plural (fears). This means that the only odd entity is the singular status of the subject/demonstrative pronoun. At any rate, the singular demonstrative pronoun (this) should be changed to its plural form (these): “These were the fears raised by panelists.”

Sample 2: “The drugs, we gathered, is now available in her outlet in Abuja.”(Rahama Indimi’s New Vacation, TheNation, 26 November, 2018)

There is only one sentence in this excerpt, and that sentence has a problem of grammatical concord. Readers are to note the verb-form (is) immediately preceding the adverb now. It is an obvious fact that the verb (is) is in its singular form. We must seek to discover within the logic and grammar of the sentence the reason for the reporter’s decision to prefer the singular form of the verb. Of course, a singular verb-form has to be grammatically and logically connected to a singular noun/noun phrase somewhere in the structure.

There is only one noun in the structure which has an unambiguous connection to the verb-slot, and that noun is drugs. Here is the structure: “The drugs…is now available…” Even a pupil in an elementary class should have no problem identifying the noun drugs as a plural item. He would quickly point to the final s in the word as evidence of its plurality and he would right. Why, then, would a reporter commit a blunder as gross as this? At any rate, the verb should be changed to its plural form in consistency with the plural form of the noun: “The drugs…are now available…”

Sample 3: “Her story changed and it was a beautiful turning point in her life. It was also time to consolidate on her business and she put on her thinking cap again.”(I had my twins after four IVF, The Nation, 25 March, 2018)

I draw readers’ attention to the phrase consolidate on which occurs in the following context: “It was time to consolidate on her business.”

The problem here is that, like many Nigerians, the writer has brought in a particle (on) where no particle is required.  The verb consolidate does not take any particle at all. It would appear that the writer has confused the usage of the verb build with that of consolidate. Yes, the verb build takes the particle on; but consolidate does not.

Now read the following sentences: 1) Having spent the last four years building infrastructure, the Governor has promised to spend the second term consolidating his efforts. 2) Now in control of most of the seats in the national assembly, the party plans to consolidate its lead by gaining most of the governorship seats in the country. 3) What I need now is a fairly substantial loan to consolidate my business. 4) The team scored two goals in the first half of the match and consolidated by scoring another goal within the first five minutes of the second half. 5) The newspaper spent the first five years of its existence expanding its circulation; now it is consolidating its spread. 6) It is no longer our priority to increase the number of our customers; our concern now is to consolidate—to retain and continue to gain the confidence of those customers.7) Having presented his major arguments in favour of his client, the counsel went ahead to consolidate his arguments at the next sitting. 8) The APC should now concern itself with consolidating its hold on power by providing welfare for Nigerians. 9) We are consolidating our leadership position in the oil business by building fuel stations across the length and breadth of this country. 10) The Armed Forces have consolidated their hold on the captured areas by building garrisons in strategic locations.

Now read the following sentences: 1) The Governor will spend the second term building on the efforts of his first term. 2) The mobilizing agency is now building on its initial enlightenment campaign. 3) Secondary education is planned in such a way that it builds on primary education. 4) Every good teacher should know how to lay a foundation and build on it later. 5) I am not sure the lady has agreed to my proposal; but I will try and build on my earlier discussion with her. 6) In the last class, we saw how tense functions in sentences; today, we will build on that by constructing sentences illustrating tense patterns. 7) Have we built anything substantial on the foundation laid by the heroes of our independence? 8) Our spiritual lives must be built on the principles of the scriptures. 8) A nation should not be built on falsehood. 9) Do not build your hope and confidence on the promises made by man. 10) You cannot build something on nothing.

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