Restraint, Restrain, and Particles

April 4, 2021
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Sample 1: “Advancing reason for his action, the EsaOke Osun State born lawmaker disclosed that he was constraint to champion the struggle; since Ekiti remains the only state in the Southwest without a Federal College of Education, it behoves on me to sponsor the bill to have a new one in my maternal town Okemesi.”(Osun lawmaker woos Fayemi for new Federal College of Education in Ekiti, Independent online, 28 May, 2020)

The word that interests us is constraintwhich occurs in the following context: “he was constraint to champion the struggle.” Readers should please note that the word constraint as used in the context is a noun. But what is required in that context is not a noun but a past participle: constrained.In fact, that noun has the effect of distorting the part of the structure in which it occurs.

Three words—and their usage—are worth considering here in view of their relevance to the context. These are: refrain, restrain/restraint, and constrain/constraint. To refrain from doing something is to deliberately avoid doing it.

Let’s read the following sentences:

1)Members of the public have been advised to refrainfrom making comments on the desirability or otherwise of the corporate existence of Nigeria.

2)Health officials have been advising residents to refrain from dumping refuse in waterways to avoid disastrous flooding.

3)Principals and headmasters have been warned to refrain from collecting unauthorized fees from students.

4)To avoid being misunderstood by people who are not familiar with the situation, I have refrained from making any pronouncement on the development.

5)Those who cannot refrain from talking are advised to leave the hall.

6)It is in his own interest to refrain from interacting with the controversial lady.

Please note that the word is a verb, and we have of necessity allowed it to occur consistently in the verbal slot. In addition, let us note that it occurs regularly with the particle from. The two words together form an indissoluble idiom.

Now restrain: When you restrain someone or yourself you prevent that person or yourself from doing something or acting in a particular way. The restraining may be physical or emotional.

Let’s read the following sentences:

1)It was with great difficulty that I restrainedmyself from hitting him in the face.

2)She was boiling inside, and it was obvious she managed to restrain herself from making explosive remarks.

3)The man charged towards the policeman, intent on strangling him, but was restrained by two hefty men.

4)Tipsy and horny, it was a miracle that he managed to restrain himself from going the whole hog with the lady.

5)We have a duty as Christians to restrain ourselves from doing anything that is antithetical to our faith.

6)There were already signs that he would soon grow violent, but this time he would restrain himself and avoid destroying the household utensils bought by his wife.

The noun form is restraint.

Let’s read the following sentences:

1)Men are often advised to exercise restraint in their dealings with women.

2)In life, there are times for sensible and productive restraint, and there are times for freedom, complete, wholesome freedom.

3)Business activities call for wisdom, calm calculation, and restraint.

4)Seasoned diplomats know when to act swiftly and freely and when to exercise restraint.

5)One should be sensible enough to exercise restraint among strangers and in a foreign land.

6)As one grows older, one’s sense of restraint should increase.

Next, we consider the verb constrain. A thing that constrains a person or another thing limits his/its action, freedom of action, development, forces him/it to do or not to do certain things.

Let’s read the following sentences:

1)Family ties often constrain people from taking up jobs from particular locations.

2)Poverty constrains people’s educational attainment in Africa.

3)There should be laws to constrain parents to send their female children to school.

4 Citizens should be constrained by patriotism to report crime to the police.

5)Constrained by love, he often helps his wife in the kitchen.

6)I feel constrained by honour to confess my misdeeds openly.

7)Expansion of a farm is often constrained by availability of land and funds.

8)The prosperity of any business organization is constrained as much by financial and human resources as by the vision of the founding director(s).

The noun form is constraint.

The following sentences illustrate its usage:

1)The association died a natural death as a result of financial constraints.

2)But for cultural constraints(such as what people would say, what would become of the children, etc)the marriage would have ended in divorce a long time ago.

3)Powerful as the presidency is, it is subject to the constraints of checks and balances.

4)There are constraints on the powers of the governor that guarantee that those powers are not abused.

5)Social constraints even in an overly patriarchal society like ours prevent husbands from acting irresponsibly.

6)Working within the constraints of limited resources, we can only expect modest achievements.

7)The constitution privides the needed constraints on the powers of public officials.

8)Every human being works within the constraint of the limited time available to him in life.

At any rate, the appropriate form for the context is: constrained.

Next, we note the expression behoves on. Our interest is particularly in the particleon following it directly. It is important to realise that the verb behove does not take any preposition at all, not even the particle on.Next, we examine the usage of the verb behoves.

Some Nigerians would write:

(1) It behoves on the rich to help the poor.

(2) As the rainy season is approaching, it behoves on the community to construct a new drainage system.

(3) It behoves on all communication service providers to inform their customers whenever there is a network problem.

(4) It behoves on teachers to serve as models of excellence and discipline.

(5) It behoves on the commercial drivers to keep their vehicles in a proper condition.

(6) It behoves on journalists to report events accurately.

The particle on should be dropped immediately after the verb behove in each of those sentences:

(1) (b) It behovesthe rich to help the poor.

(2) (b) As the rainy season is approaching, it behovesthe community to construct a new drainage system.

(3) (b) It behovesall communication service providers to inform their customers whenever there is a network problem.

(4) (b) It behovesteachers to serve as models of excellence and discipline.

(5) (b) It behovesthe commercial drivers to keep their vehicles in a proper condition.

(6) (b) It behovesjournalists to report events accurately.

It behoves us to consider some words whose prepositions (wrong inclusion or deletion) pose challenges to some Nigerian users of English.

It has been noted repeatedly in this place that idioms are stretches of language whose syntactic structure and lexical composition are not amenable to any form of variation: the ordering of words and the words themselves are inflexible. Any attempt to vary them will result is distortions of varying degrees of stylistic and discoursive seriousness.

The word conducive,for example, in idiomatic context  suffers confusion in the hands of Nigerian users. The particle that collocates invariably with that adjective is not for butto.

In each of the following sentences, the particle for is wrongly attached to the word conducive:

(1) The authorities are working hard to create an environment that is totally conducive for learning.

(2) This hotel is certainly not conducive for sound sleep.

(3) I don’t think this environment is conducive for the workshop we are planning to have.

(4) In spite of the colossal sum of money spent on the campuses, few of them are conducivefor teaching and learning.

(5) The school I have in mind is such that will be so conducive for learning that nobody would think of travelling abroad to receive education.

(6) With all sorts of people around, this place is not conducive for the kind of discussion we want to have.

The problem with each of these sentences is the inclusion of the particle for where to is the appropriate one.

The sentences are corrected as follows:

(1) (b) The authorities are working hard to create an environment that is totally conducive to learning.

(2) (b) This hotel is certainly not conducive to sound sleep.

(3) (b) I don’t think this environment is conducive to the workshop we are planning to have.

(4) (b) In spite of the colossal sum of money spent on the campuses, few of them are conduciveto teaching and learning.

(5) (b) The school I have in mind is such that will be so conducive to learning that nobody would think of travelling abroad to receive education.

(6) (b) With all sorts of people around, this place is not conducive to the kind of discussion we want to have.

Some Nigerians habitually attach the particle at to the word detriment in confusion with the usage of the word expense. It is proper to allow the particle at to collocate with expense, but it is certainly wrong to attach that particle to detriment.

The following sentences involving the use of the word detriment are erroneous precisely because the particle at is attached to that noun in each of them:

(1) He spends many hours reading during the night at the detriment of his health.

(2) Huge sums of money are stashed away in foreign banks at the detriment of the Nigerian economy.

(3) Many youths take drugs at the detriment of their health.

(4) Some workers were sacked at the detriment of the company.

(5) Dangerous fumes are being released at the detriment of our health.

(6) Justice is both delayed and denied at the detriment of the society.

Of course the particle to should replace at in the context in which the word detriment appears.

In addition, in each of the sentences, the word expense could conveniently replace detriment:

(1) (b) He spends many hours reading during the night to the detriment of his health. Or:

(1) (c) He spends many hours reading during the night at the expense of his health.

(2) (b) Huge sums of money are stashed away in foreign banks to the detriment of the Nigerian economy. Or:

(2) (c) Huge sums of money are stashed away in foreign banks at the expense of the Nigerian economy.

(3) (b) Many youths take drugs to the detriment of their health. Or:

(3) (c) Many youths take drugs at the expense of their health.

(4) (b) Some workers were sacked to the detriment of the company. Or:

(4) (c) Some workers were sacked at the expense of the company.

(5) (b) Dangerous fumes are being released to the detriment of our health. Or:

(5) (c) Dangerous fumes are being released at the expense of our health.

Next, we consider the word alongside, a word that does not take any particle but to which some Nigerians attach the particle with. The confusion, we suspect, must have come from the observed usage of the word along which takes the particle with. Although the two expressions are similar in meaning, they differ in their usage, particularly with respect to the use of particles.

The following sentences are defective because they each contain the particle with in collocation with the word alongside:

(1) The politician was murdered alongside with his Personal Assistant.

(2) I was given a heavy responsibility alongside with my other assignments.

(3) The car moved alongside with another car which later blocked its way.

(4) The less known musician was singing alongside with the prominent one.

(5) In any major city in the world, slums exist alongside with eyebrow areas.

(6) Private schools are run alongside with government – owned schools.

As we have indicated, the error in each of these sentences is to be found in the inclusion of the particle with. We must dispense with that particle so that our sentences now read:

(1) (b) The politician was murdered alongside his Personal Assistant.

(2) (b) I was given a heavy responsibility alongside my other assignments.

(3) (b) The car moved alongside another car which later blocked its way.

(4) (b) The less known musician was singing alongside the prominent one.

(5) In any major city in the world, slums exist alongside eyebrow areas.

(6) Private schools are run alongside government – owned schools.

We can now focus attention on the expression along with:

(1) The politician was murdered along with his Personal Assistant.

(2) The minor ailment was treated along with cancer.

(3) The hens were delivered along with the eggs.

(4) She was sentenced along with other criminals.

(5) The phone was stolen along with its charger.

(6) The visitor came into the room along with his luggage. To repeat, the word along takes the particle with, but the word alongside does not

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