Oyetola did not only refuse…

Sample 1: “But Aregbesola’s supporters are quick to dismiss such conclusions pointing out that Oyetola did not only refused to send greetings to Sherifat, Aregbesola’s wife, who celebrated her birthday few days ago, he stayed away from reception held in her honour at the Interior Minister’s residence in Lagos…Aside the social media fights of the supporters of the two politicians, Oyetola has been doing almost everything to distance himself from the eight years rule of Aregbesola, reviewing most of his policies, and either cancel them outrightly or reverse them to previous condition.”(Cold War: Aregbesola shuns successor’s 66th birthday, abujareporters.com.ng in Opera News, October 1, 2020)

We note the following verb-forms as they occur in the excerpt: reviewing; cancel; and reverse. They all occur in the following structural context: “…Oyetola has been doing almost everything to distance himself from the eight years rule of Aregbesola, reviewing most of his policies, and either cancel them outrightly or reverse them…” The first of the three (reviewing) is appropriately in the present participle (or ing) form, while the two others (cancel and reverse) are disappointingly in the basic, infinitive form. This difference in form cannot be defended on the basis of sound grammar or sound logic. The two others should be converted to their respective present participle forms: cancelling and reversing. The structure now reads: “…Oyetola has been doing almost everything to distance himself from the eight years rule of Aregbesola, reviewing most of his policies, and either cancelling them outrightly or reversing them…”

Next we observe the tense forms of the words did and refused in the following structure: “…Oyetoladid not only refused to send greetings to Sherifat…he stayed away from reception…” That the two verbs occur in their past forms offends against grammatical rule. The basic form of did is do; that of refused is refuse.The general rule is this: Whenever the supporting do is brought into a sentence for the purpose of negation or question formation, it is that verb (do) that carries the tense and concord/number markers. In consequence, the main verb or verbs do not experience change in form.

Examples are:

1a) He knew the truth.

1b) He did not know the truth.


2a) Shespoke her mind.

2b) She did not speak her mind.


3a) I accepted the offer.

3b) I did not accept the offer.


4a) He knows the truth.

4b) He does not know the truth.


5a) She speaks her mind.

5b) She does not speak her mind.


6a) She sings well.

6b) She does not sing well.


Let’s have more examples:

1a) Militants attacked the army chief’s convoy.

1b) Militants did not attack the army chief’s convoy.


2a) The cold weather prevented us from enjoying the holiday in England.

2b) The cold weather did not prevent us from enjoying the holiday in England.


3a) The national assembly delayed the passage of the bill.

3b) The national assembly did not delay the passage of the bill.


4a) The police frustrated the investigation.

4b) The police did not frustrate the investigation.


5a) The lady loves flowers.

5b) The lady does not love flowers.


6a) Diligence opens all doors.

6b) Diligence does not open all doors.


Note that in (a) of numbers (1)-(4), each of the main verbs carries the tense: attacked, prevented, delayed, and frustrated. But in (b) of the corresponding numbers, the form do is introduced. The do form now becomes didbecause the tense is transferred to it. In consequence each of the main verbs, now relieved of the tense, is presented in its basic, uninflected form: attack, prevent, delay, and frustrate.

The pairs of sentences in numbers (5) and (6) are in their present simple (everyday) tense. The verb in each of sentences (5a) and (6a) carries s, an indication that it is inflected to reflect the third person singular subject: loves, opens. The do form is introduced in each of their (b) counterparts. The subject, being in the third person singular form, requires that the verb should carry the s or es or ies as the case may be. Characteristically, this feature is transferred to the form do so that it becomes does.

The influence of the do-form is also applicable to structures of questions. The questions could be those requiring yes/no answers (known as yes/no questions) or wh-questions (those beginning with wh-words: what, when, where, which, how).


Read the following sentences:

1a) The journalist wrote an interesting report.

1b) Did the journalist write an interesting report?

1c) The journalist did not write an interesting report.


2a) The result of the election surprised the party leaders.

2b) Did the outcome of the election surprise the party leaders?

2c) The result of the election did not surprise the party leaders.


3a) The victim reported the case to the police.

3b)Did the victim report the case to the police?

3c) The victim did not report the case to the police.


4a) The school suspended sporting activities.

4b)Did the school suspend sporting activities?

4c) The school did not suspend sporting activities.


5a) The fraudster deceives his victims.

5b) Does the fraudster deceive his victims?

5c) The fraudster does not deceive his victims.


6a) The lady loves flowers.

6b)Does the love flowers?

6c) The lady does not love flowers.


The rule we have specified and illustrated so far is also in operation in those sentences. In all the (a) sentences in which the main verbs are the only verbal elements available, those verbs are inflected either for tense or number. In all the (b) and (c) sentences in which the do-form is introduced for the purpose of forming either questions or negation, it is the do form that becomes either did or does. The main verbs in the latter cases remain in their basic, uninflected forms.

Please note that the (b) sentences in (1)-(6) are yes/no questions.


We can also have wh-questions:

(1) What did you tell the chairman yesterday?

2) What did the Chief Press Secretary suggest to the Governor?

3) What did your father give you?

4) What did the teacher explain to the inquisitive student?

5) Why did you leave the campus so early?

6) Why did the soldiers attack the Odi community in Bayelsa State?

7) Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

8) Why did President Muhammadu Buharidelay for so long before appointing his ministers?

9) When did you leave Lagos?

10) When did Nigeria gain her independence?

11) When did Nigeria join the United Nations?

12) When did the plane take off?

13) Where did you pass the night?

14) Where did Chief ObafemiAwolowolive when he was Premier of Western Region?

15) Where did you find your wallet?

16) Where did the meeting take place?

17) How did you arrive so early?

18) How did you run the company during the time of recession?

19) How did the information get to the management?

20) How did the Federal Government win the civil war?

All the sentences are in their past forms. How is this indicated? The indicator is the supporting verb-form do which is in its past form: did. The main verb following did is consistently in its infinitive, uninflected form. The rule remains the same in its application even when the sentence is in its present form.


Read the following sentences:

1) Whatdoes this noise suggest?

2) What does the president think of his cabinet?

3) What does the Bible say on divorce?

4) What does your conscience tell you?

5) When does the programmecommence?

6) When does the law take effect?

7) When does your would-be husband normally visit?

8) When does your tenancy take effect?

9) Why does she not attend the weekly meeting?

10) Why does Jesus speak in parable?

11) Why does God allow Satan to wander in the world?

12) Why does the financial assistance come only once in a year?

13) How does a snail move?

14) How does she keep body and soul together?

15) How does salt preserve meat?

16) How does a cat see in the dark?

17) Where does a kite stay during the rainy season?

18) If God is everywhere, where does He live?

19) Where does he meet his lover?

20) Where does the Nigerian president live?

Those sentences are in their present forms and all obey the rule we have highlighted repeatedly.

The sample sentence should now read: “…Oyetola did not only refuse…”



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