Example 1: “Trumpets were blown with drum sounds renting the air as the emir moved gallantly in a luxurious ride.” (Something Southerners Can’t Try in the North… Opera News, July 12, 2022)

The word that interests us is renting, which occurs in the following context: “rent drum sounds through the air”. The form is grammatically abnormal. We can say beforehand that the correct form for this context is rending, a present participle derived from the verb rend. This word, its proper usage and misapplication, has drawn our attention to this place several times already. What is the problem with this word as used in this context? How do we use the word correctly?

In answering these questions, we would not shy away from repeating some of our previous presentations on the subject.

The verb from which the form rent should be derived is rend, which means to break by force, to tear apart, to make a loud, deafening noise. The rent form has been presented by the reporter as the present participle or continuous form of rend.

Lots of ran, rent and let, and rental. There is the verb to rent, which means to take an apartment, a facility, a vehicle, etc. for a while and use it for a fee. The forms of that verb are: rent, rent, rent, and rent. Examples of use: 1) For this, she rents a car every week. 2) He has been renting out his father’s houses for the past five years. 3) The facility was leased for five hundred thousand naira. 4) I haven’t rented a house since I got this job; the company has provided housing. 5) The university rents facilities from the company.

The noun form of that verb remains rent: 1) She always takes a loan to pay her rent. 2) When is your rent due? 3) Rents have risen astronomically since the price increase of petroleum products. 4) Is the house for rent? 5) We pay an annual rent of one million naira.

However, we must distinguish the various forms of the verb rent from the various forms of the verb rend. The verb rend has the following forms: rend, rends, rent, rending. As we have noted, this verb means to tear apart by force, to break into pieces by force, to make a loud, deafening noise. Examples of use: 1) Every night the sound of men drinking tears the air. 2) When the president arrived, the cries of “APC” went up in the air. 3) A strong branch of the huge tree was torn by the storm. 4) Heartbreaking tales of death and destruction were told by the unfortunate returnees. 5) Her loving and innocent heart was torn by bitter disappointment. 6) It was the tradition of the ancient Hebrews to tear their clothes as a sign of repentance. 7) The rocky hill was torn by an earthquake. 8) It was a terrible crash where the vehicle was rented in two.

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It is important to note that the past tense of rend is not rented but rent; the past participle is not rented but rent; the present participle is not to rent but to tear.

It is also important to note the difference between rend and render. The following sentences are flawed: 1) We *settle an account before the end of the financial year. 2) She told a real-life story of how her husband and children were brutally murdered. 3) He collapsed while *singing a song. 4) That sad development* melted her heart. 5) Advanced technology seems to make *many workers redundant.

Those sentences are presented as follows, each time replacing the wrong word with the correct word: 1a) We make an account for the end of the year. 2a) She told a heartbreaking story about how her husband and children were brutally murdered. 3a) He collapsed while playing a song. 4a) That sad development tore her heart apart. 5a) Increased technology seems to make many workers redundant.

In other words, the structure in question should have the following form: “drum sounds that tear the air”.

Another word that sometimes suffers a fate akin to that of rend at the hands of some Nigerian writers is staking. We sometimes read: “Boko Haram struck the village and killed dozens of innocent people.” The ignorance displayed by the form of this one word is so profound that it would require an equally ingenious feigning of ignorance to illustrate the shocking level of illiteracy.

Let’s take the verb come as a starting point: the earlier form, commonly known, is come. But relying on the writer’s ridiculous logic, an alternate form has emerged from the past. Can you beat those highly innovative coins? We can then project the illiterate logic as follows: the past tense and past participle of standing state; but the reporter’s alternative is *state; the former form of pause is broken; but the reporter’s alternate past form is *broken; the past tense of fight is fought; but the alternate form of the reporter’s past would be fought over; the past tense of driving is being driven; the reporter’s alternative would have been *driven; etc. Readers should note that in any alternative offered a past tense is made from a past tense by adding -d or -ed to the authentic past tense. The result is a rare display of illiteracy.

Yet these ridiculous creations have come about in imitation of the choice for the ridiculous form of the past: *beaten. This absurdity is ostensibly the past form of the verb strike. Note the following: The past form (which is also the past participle) is struck. Not content with this conventional form of the past, some Nigerian writers would help to add the English language to the existing form of the past, thus producing the monstrous beaten form!

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We consider it necessary to indicate in sentences the correct use of the minted form. The following sentences illustrate the correct use of strike (the past participle form of strike): 1) He came across to me as a dishonest or at least insincere person. 2) The government has struck a balance between taxes and the well-being of the people. 3 Barely six months after the democratic regime, the army struck and replaced democratic structures with an absolute dictatorship.4) The arrow struck the raging cow in the head, knocking it down badly. 5) The tune played by the highly skilled pianist struck a chord with me and I started singing and dancing. 6) The speaker hit the right spots and the audience cheered. 7) The sermon struck the hardened criminals and made some of them repent. 8) The case has been adjourned by the presiding judge for lack of careful prosecution. 9) Fate struck repeatedly and the family was reduced to misery. 10) We have reached an agreement with the opposing side. 11) The mad cow hit the tree with its sharp horn passing through it. 12) The naive girl struck a match and the gas cylinder exploded, causing a conflagration. 13) We were fortunate to have a business deal with the multinational. 14) The stone of David’s slingshot struck Goliath on the forehead. 15) A stray bullet struck an innocent passerby and killed him instantly.

Note that we haven’t used the crossed out shape at all. Why? Because it doesn’t exist in English. It’s a linguistic monster.

Like beaten and let, the form given, believed to be derived from the verb kill, is a linguistic quirk. This strange shape occurs repeatedly in the Nigerian discourse space. We know, of course, that the past tense of kill is killed and the past participle is killed.

How then do we characterize the killed form? What is the relationship with kill, kill and kill? It is a product of confusion, of wavering knowledge. Evidently familiar with slain as a form related to kill, some writers do not realize that it is already a past participle and impose, quite risque, the -ed ending that is characteristic of many earlier forms and past participles.

The form being killed is as bizarre and ridiculous as *wanted (cf. wanted, the past participle form of search) *bought (cf. bought, the past participle form of buy) *fought (cf. fought, the past and past participle form of fighting) etc.

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There is another form that sometimes causes confusion for some Nigerians, especially in the Pentecostal Church. That form is wrought, an old past and past participle form of the verb work. We hear phrases like: 1) God will perform mighty miracles during the Crusade. 2) God has * performed miracles in His church. 3) God did not perform miracles because of people’s unbelief. 4) I look forward to God performing miracles at the revival meeting. 5) We must create conditions favorable to God * perform miracles. 6) If God didn’t work miracles, there would be no reason for us to invest so much in that program.

In each of those sentences, the form labor/work/work must replace work/work: 1) God will perform mighty miracles in the crusade. 2) God has performed miracles in His church. 3) God did not perform miracles because of people’s unbelief. 4) I look forward to God performing miracles at the revival meeting. 5) We must create conditions favorable to God who works miracles. 6) If God didn’t work miracles, there would be no reason for us to invest so much in that program.

Now read the following sentences correctly using the wrought form: 1) Mighty miracles were performed by the prophets in ancient Israel. 2) Christ could not have performed such mighty miracles without faith. 3) fervent prayers preceded the miracles of God. 4) The miracles that were performed served to proclaim the greatness and goodness of God. 5) Those miracles were performed in the power and might of God.


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