Grinding to a halt…

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)

There are two or three significant errors in this excerpt that will require our attention today and in the next couple of weeks. First, we note the sentence: “The economy has been grounded to a halt.” There are two major issues with this expression. One, the form grounded is supposedly the past participle form of the verb grind. But this is an erroneous form. Rather, the form ground represents both the past and the past participle forms of the verb grind. Two, the structure in which the erroneous form occurs is also faulty. The acceptable structure is: “X grinds to a halt” and not *“X grinds Y to a halt” or *X has been *grounded to a halt.”(In addition to the inappropriateness of the passive form, the form grounded is not the right one here as we shall soon demonstrate.) We say, “The company/the activities of the company ground to a halt” and NOT: “Lack of funds/lack of vision ground the activities to a halt.” Moreover, it is poor English to say: *“The activities of the company have been ground to a halt.” Do not use the passive structure like the immediately preceding sentence if you must include the preposition phrase: “to a halt.”  Further clarification comes later in this discussion.

At any rate, it becomes necessary to consider and illustrate the usage of the forms of grind and ground.

Now read the following sentences: 1) The activities of the company will soon grind to a halt. 2) Three years after he took over power, the country ground to a halt. 3) Following the collapse of the power sector, business activities ground to a halt. 4) Nobody was able to explain why the traffic ground to a halt. 5) The country was grinding to a halt when Abacha passed on. 6) When the family was very prosperous, its members were grinding pepper and other materials for soup every week. 7) All the villagers come here to grind their pepper and dried yams. 8) Members of the family watched helplessly as the deceased’s heart ground to a halt. 9) When he heard about the failure, he began to grind his teeth in disappointment and sorrow. 10) As we approached the scene of the accident, the traffic ground to a halt.11) The beverages we buy at exorbitant prices are nothing but our cocoa beans ground into powder.

The major issue is that Nigerian users tend to regard ground as the basic form, a form possibly derived from Pidgin English. Not surprisingly, some Nigerians would say: 1) *I want to go and *ground some pepper. 2) *The sugar cubes have been *grounded. 3) *The grains have been *grounded to powder. 4) *The next stage is to *ground the pieces of rock into very fine powder. 5) *Add a measure of *grounded pepper to the boiling soup. 6) *What is the difference between finely *grounded stones and cement? 7) *The bomb blasts *grounded the entire building to power. 8)*The concoction is prepared by mixing *grounded charcoal with sheabutter and some other strange substances. 9) *Grounded rice prepared like amala can be a delicious meal especially when eaten with rich soup. 1o) *Some people would prefer to *ground their tablets and mix the powder with honey before taking it.

The corrected version of each of those sentences is presented as follows: 1) I want to go and grind some pepper. 2) The sugar cubes have been ground. 3) The grains have been ground to powder. 4) The next stage is to grind the pieces of rock into very fine powder. 5) Add a measure of ground pepper to the boiling soup. 6) What is the difference between finely ground stones and cement? 7) The bomb blasts ground the entire building to power. 8)The concoction is prepared by mixing ground charcoal with sheabutter and some other strange substances. 9) Ground rice prepared like amala can be a delicious meal especially when eaten with rich soup. 1o) Some people would prefer to grind their tablets and mix the powder with honey before taking it. 11) Most people were reduced to grinding poverty.

There are some similar forms that require our attention. When we say that someone is grounded in a subject, we mean he has a good knowledge of it. Please read the following sentences: 1) Grounded in Mathematics, the young man decided to study Electrical and Electronic Engineering. 2) To live a godly life, you must be grounded in the Christian Scriptures. 3) Our students are grounded in literature and language. 4) All Nigerians should be grounded in traditional cultures and native languages. 5) The products of our secondary schools should be grounded in the basics of English and Mathematics.

A ship or plane that is grounded is one that is prevented from moving either because it has developed a fault or because the pilot decides not to move it: 1) The ship used for the oil theft has been grounded. 2) Something vital happened to the engine and the boat was grounded. 3) The ship collided with a mighty shark and was forcibly grounded. 4) The ship strayed into our territorial waters and was grounded. 5) Following a mighty storm, the ship conveying the refined product became grounded. 6) The militants were said to have grounded many Nigerian and foreign ships.

When we say that an idea or truth or teaching is grounded in or on something else, we mean it is based on it: 1) The Pastor’s sermons are always grounded in the Bible. 2) The theory is grounded in Aristotle’s principles. 3) All Islamic teachings should be grounded in the Quran. 4) All Soyinka’s ideas are grounded in the Yoruba tradition and culture. 5) Every academic paper should be grounded in a well-known theory. 6) His philosophy of life is grounded in the wisdom of the elders. 7) Christians’ actions should be grounded in love.

And grounding? To have a grounding in a subject is to have a good knowledge of that subject. Now read the following sentences: 1) To qualify for admission into this Department, you must have a grounding in Mathematics. 2) The advantage she has is that she has a grounding in computer. 3) The workshop aims to give the participants a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of basic accounting. 4) In the first two years, the students are expected to have a grounding in practical survey. 5) Our products secure jobs easily because they have been given a good grounding in the fundamentals of the profession.

The analysis continues next week by God’s grace.



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