Feasible, visible, basis

SAMPLE 1: “Last year, there were cases of containers in which cash and ammunition was stashed…the advantage of a detection dog is that certain feasible scent profiles or pictures can be combined…”(How to Tackle Kidnapping, Other Crimes with Dogs, Vanguard, 21 July, 2019)

First, we note the singular form (was) sandwiched between the words ammunition and stashed. Given the fact that that form (was) is singular, we expect that it is logically and grammatically connected to a noun/noun phrase whose plurality has influenced the choice of the singular form. Our search, however,  yields two nouns conjoined with the conjunction and. The two nouns are: cash and ammunition. The two nouns, taken together, are quite obviously plural, requiring not a singular verb-form, but a plural one. The plural verb-form required is: were. The form answers to both the logic and grammar of the context.

Next, we note the adjective feasible which occurs in the following context: “certain feasible scent profiles or pictures.” The context does indicate that the writer’s intended meaning of the word feasible is: that is seen or can be seen; discernible to the eyes; that which the eyes can perceive. We observe immediately that the writer has confused feasible with visible.

.” The error here may not be so visible except through the magnifying glasses of the always suspicious and fastidious grammarian, but once the error is identified, correcting it becomes an easy and feasible task.

For many Nigerians who cannot distinguish in pronunciation between the letters v and f, and between the long and short vowels, it would be a herculean task distinguishing in use between feasible and visible. The same features that make the adjectives – visible and feasible – difficult to differentiate affect their noun forms – visibility and feasibility, and it is only through illustrative sentences that we can hope to demonstrate convincingly that we are handling two different adjectives and two different nouns.

Now the sentences: (1) Idolatry is nothing but an attempt to represent in visible terms the incorruptible and invisible God (2) The distress on the man’s face is not visible from a distance, but when you move closer, you find that his appearance has changed drastically.          (3) Althoughthe physical and visible parts – the buildings, the lawns, the flowers – of a university are important, much more important are the intellectual and academic activities going on within the ivory tower. (4)  The aeroplane soon shot itself into an altitude where it was no more visible.  (5) The thick, dark smoke from the burning edifice was visible in distant towns and communities. (6) Microorganisms are not visible to the naked eyes; they can become visible only through the microscope.

From the six sentences above, it should be obvious that the adjective visible means clear, obvious, observable, seen or can be seen.  The noun form is visibility: (1) Drivers should drive carefully during the harmattan season for cloud can make visibility an extremely challenging phenomenon.  (2) The fact is that social visibility – being socially conspicuous – can become an obsession for politicians who want to remain eternally relevant. (3) The microscope increases the visibility of microorganisms.

Next, we illustrate the usage of the adjective feasible, an adjective which means workable, implementable, likely to be viable, achievable, practicable: (1) The plan to run the university exclusively with internally generated funds is not feasible. (2) The project got stuck along the way in spite of the initial claim that it was a most feasibleenterprise. (3) It is not feasible for a student to go through two academic programmes simultaneously.  (1) A business is said to be feasible when it is based on realistic projections. (2) Taking a leave now may not be feasible in view of the numerous assignments lined up for the next twelve months.

The noun form is feasibility: (1) Numerousfeasibility studies have shown that it will not be a viable project. (2) Many experts have doubted the feasibility of the plan. (3) Even when feasibility studies have confirmed that a particular business project is likely to succeed, those executing it must demonstrate acumen and wisdom.

Sample 2: “Members of the House of Representatives have said that N8.5 million given to them as monthly running cost is grossly inadequate for the myriad of problems and challenges they faced on daily basis.”(N/Assembly: N8.5 Monthly Pay Grossly Inadequate—Reps, Vanguard, 21 July, 2019)

I draw readers’ attention to the phrase: on daily basis. We have made the point emphatically in an earlier discussion that there should be an indefinite article (a) before the word daily as another modifier of the nounbasis. As a singular countable noun, the word basis requires that article.

Now read the following sentences: 1) The meeting holds on a regular basis. 2) The allowances are paid on a monthly basis. 3) The training sessions are held on an annual basis. 4) Workers are employed on a part-time basis. 5) Contrary to your view, there is a basis for rejecting the application. 6) Meetings are held on a monthly basis. 7) Children and adults should wash their teeth on a daily basis. 8) The police patrol the area on a weekly basis. 9) Methods and approaches are changed on a yearly basis. 10) Budgets are prepared and presented on an annual basis. 11) Guards are changed on a regular basis.

Note that in each of those sentences, the word basis is in its singular form. It is important to note the spelling. Note, in addition, that the word is modified by a/an. This modifier is obligatory.

Now compare those sentences with the following: 1) I have two bases for objecting to that proposal. 2) The philosophical bases for the argument are quite sound. 3) On both theological and moral bases, the idea is repugnant. 4) The chairman insisted that people must provide rational bases for their suggestions. 5) I am trying to examine the bases for the various arguments presented.

It is as ungrammatical to use the singular form (basis) without the indefinite article a pre-modifying it as it is to allow that word (a) to pre-modify the plural form (bases). You shouldn’t say: “She visits us on regular basis.”  Rather say: “She visits us on a regular basis.”  Do not say: “There are a sound bases for their arguments.” Rather say: “There are sound bases for their arguments.”

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