Prepositions revisited

Sample 1: “…the suspect slashed the hand of the victim leading to the cut of one of the arteries resulting to her bleeding to death.”(How woman was stabbed to death by mother of son’s girlfriend, Sunday Vanguard, 21 July, 2019)

The expression that interests us is resulting to. The expression occurs in the following context: “resulting to her bleeding to death.” This is an expression that has engaged our attention repeatedly in this place. But as long as the error is being committed, we would never be tired of addressing it. Let’s note the particle to which collocates with the verb result in this context. It is not the appropriate particle; not only that, that particle is symptomatic of the perennial confusion witnessed in the Nigerian usage scene between the expressions result in/from and resort to.

Now what is the nature of the error? We are looking at the difference between result and resort, which many Nigerians, including the reporter whose work is under review, would be unable to note at the level of pronunciation. There is a major phonetic difference between these words, and the first step towards overcoming the tendency to confuse them is to learn to pronounce them accurately.

How do we use the verb result? Please read the following sentences: 1) The near total failure of the project resulted from poor planning. 2) The violence resulted from the government’s refusal to listen to members of the public. 3) The governor’s loss of the election resulted from his political insensitivity. 4) The outbreak of cholera resulted from the people’s unhygienic living habit. 5) The war obviously resulted from lack of political, religious and racial tolerance. 6) Lack of adequate preparation resulted in mass failure. 7) Distorted understanding of the situation resulted in a wrong assessment of the people. 8) It is doubtful if this rather prolonged drought would not result in famine. 9) Careless driving often results in avoidable accidents. 10) Years of oppression and suppression of the masses can result in a violent revolution.

I advise readers to please note the particles that go with the verb result: in and from. An event or action may result in or from another event or action. Some Nigerian users would replace either of these particles with the particle to or into. They would say, for example, “The violent clash resulted to the death of the union leader” or “The heavy rain resulted into massive flooding.” The appropriate particle in each of those sentences is in.

And resort? When people resort to something, they use it or apply it or turn to it because they understand that that is the only thing that will work in their situation. Please read the following sentences: 1) Under no circumstances should you resort to borrowing. 2) Students have often resorted to violence whenever there is a misunderstanding between them and the authorities. 3) Frustrated, and alienated from his wife, the man has resorted to heavy drinking. 4) Constantly under attacks by armed robbers, residents have resorted to self-policing. 5) Many years ago, some banks resorted to chasing their debtors all over the place. 6) Is it right for jobless and hungry young men to resort to stealing? 7) He resorted to marrying another wife because his first wife allegedly gave him no peace. 8) When all else failed, he resorted to drug trafficking. 9) Having become grossly unpopular and incompetent, the government resorted to gagging the press. 10) In the face of pain, poverty, and frustration, the lady resorted to prostitution.

It should be clear that the appropriate expression is: resulting in.

Many Nigerian users are confused when it comes to the use of particles. They would bring in particles where none is required; delete particles where they are absolutely necessary; use wrong particles in particular contexts; etc. Let’s consider some examples. Some Nigerians have this habit of allowing the particle on to collocate with the verb emphasise. They would say, “The chairman emphasised *on the need for probity in the handling of the company’s affairs.” The proper thing to say is: “The chairman emphasised the need for probity in the handling of the company’s affairs.” Other defective sentences and their corrected versions are as follows: Defective: The professor emphasised *on the importance of regular reading as a means of developing one’s capacity. Corrected version: The professor emphasised the importance of regular reading as a means of developing one’s capacity. Defective: The doctor emphasised *on the need for exercise as a way of maintaining a healthy body. Corrected version: The doctor emphasised the need for regular exercise as a way of maintaining a healthy body. Defective: The guest lecturer encouraged the developing African nations to emphasise *on mechanized agriculture as a means of guaranteeing food security. Corrected version: The guest lecturer encouraged the developing African nations to emphasise mechanized agriculture as a means of guaranteeing food security. Defective: This regime is emphasising *on training and re-training of staff. Corrected version: This regime is emphasising training and re-training of staff. Defective: The instructor emphasised *on the need to maintain a clean and hygienic environment. Corrected version: The instructor emphasised the need to maintain a clean and hygienic environment.

Readers should note that although the verb emphasise does not take the particle on, the noun emphasis does. Please read the following sentences: 1) The new regime places emphasis on probity and accountability. (Compare: The new regime emphasses probity and accountability.) 2) The emphasis in the western world is on increased technology. (Compare: The western world emphasises increased technology.) 3) The emphasis here is on herbal medicine (Compare: Here we emphasise herbal medicine.) 4) The workshop will place emphasis on the participants’ ability to pronounce words correctly. (Compare: The workshop will emphasise the participants’ ability to pronounce words correctly.) 5) This government is placing emphasis on security. (Compare: This government is emphasising security.) 6) Any training in English should lay emphasis on clarity of expression. (Compare: Any training in English should emphasise clarity of expression.)

Similarly, some users confuse the particle/preposition that should go with the verb prepare (or its noun preparation) with the one that goes with the adjective preparatory. They would say, preparatory for instead of preparatory to. Read the following sentences: 1a) We are preparing for exams. b) We have bought materials in preparation for exams. C) Materials have been bought preparatory to exams. 2a) We are preparing for the construction work. b) We have cleared the site in preparation for the construction work. C) We have cleared the site preparatory to the commencement of construction work. 3a) INEC is preparing for elections. b) INEC has been procuring materials in preparation for elections. C) INEC has been procuring materials preparatory to the elections. 4a) We are preparing for the meeting. b)The hall has been tidied up in preparation for the meeting. c) The hall has been tidied up preparatory to the meeting. 5) a) I am preparing for resumption. b) I have bought new books in preparation for resumption. c) I have bought new books preparatory to resumption. 6) a) The Super Eagles are preparing for the match.  b) The Super Eagles have gone to the camp in preparation for the match. c) The Super Eagles have gone to the camp preparatory to the match.

Note the following: prepare for; preparation for; preparatory to.

As another example, some Nigerians would say : “at the verge of…” instead of: “on the verge of…” Please read the following sentences: 1) I came into the country on the verge of the general elections. 2) Now that the company is on the verge of economic breakthrough, nothing should be done to reverse its fortune. 3) The world seems to be on the verge of inventing the vaccine for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). 4) The Security Council intervened at the appropriate time: the country was then on the verge of anarchy. 5) The help came at a time I was on the verge of bankruptcy. 6) War broke out on the verge of independence of the country.

The verb form also takes the particle on: 1) The delirious outbursts verge on lunacy. 2) The expression of doubt verges on malicious suspicion. 3) His condition verges on absolute poverty. 4) Her level of education verges on illiteracy. 5) The hedging verges on dishonesty. 6) The man’s spiritual condition verges on apostasy.

The verb border also takes the particle on and is synonymous with verge on: 1) His insensitivity borders on misanthropy. 2) The happy-go-lucky attitude borders on laziness. 3) Your attitude to your friend’s success borders on jealousy. 4) The way he has been hiding information on the matter borders on insincerity. 5) The man’s consistent refusal to obey his seniors borders on rebellion. 6) The insurgency borders on national insecurity.

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