Sample 1: “Gistlover…revealed that his estranged wife is of the opinion that his side chics should take care of him as they were the once that squandered his riches when he was very much active in the industry.” (How Julius Agwu’s wife allegedly abandoned him…Opera News, 7 April, 2022)
The word that deservedly claims our attention is once. A malapropism, the word occurs in the following context: “they were the once that squandered his riches.” The confusion that results in the mistaken identity is obviously engendered by a pronunciation crisis. Notice that this word (once) is referred to in the plural (‘they’) and occurs in the context of the plural verb (‘are’). Unmistakably, the word once, an adverb, has been selected in lieu of ones, the plural form of the pronounone.
Now read the following sentences: 1) This run-down house was once a magnificent building admired by everyone. 2) There was once a law prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places. 3) That old woman was once a glamorous courtesan popular among the wealthy and the powerful. 4) We are told that domestic animals were once wild animals tamed over the centuries. 5) Once you are recruited into the army, you have forfeited your freedom to unilaterally withdraw your service. 6) Chinua Achebe’s sentence, ‘There was once a country’, has generated a lot of heat in Nigeria. 7) Mercedes Benz was once the king of cars in Nigeria. 8) This dictum is interesting: “Once bitten, twice shy.” 9) Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is at once courageous and outspoken. 10) The soldiers were ordered to leave the village at once. 11) The court ordered the police to vacate the premises at once. 12) The lady is at once generous and humble. 13)Once I receive the mail, you can be sure that I will act upon it immediately. 14) Her boss once made overtures to her. 15) I receive information on the project once in a while. 16)The MD visits the sister company once in a while. 17) I visited the University only once since I graduated. 18) It rained only once since January. 19)They were so poor that they ate onlyonce every two days. 20) The Vice Chancellor teaches only once in week. 21) Every adult was once a baby.
You can now read the following sentences: 1) Good mangoes are not available these days. The ones that are available are not so sweet.2) Those ones are not as expensive as these. 3) Modern cars are notably fuel-efficient. The ones manufactured in the last century did not exhibit fuel economy. 4) It is the young ones that suffer the most when the economy is bad. 5) I don’t have my tools here. The ones that I have here are too old to be of any use. 6) We do no have sufficient teachers in the rural areas. Yet, the ones in the urban centres are not willing to be transferred to rural areas. 7) Most of our mechanics cannot handle modern cars. Even the ones that demonstrate expertise are not sufficiently honest. 8) Many of the students are not diligent; the ones that diligent are generally indigent. 9) There were no police officers around. The ones that were around had closed for the day. 10) Few books treat this subject in detail. The ones that do are not available in the country. 11) Preachers who speak the truth are not many. The ones that do are hardly able to feed their families. 12) Incorruptible public officers are rare. The ones that are incorruptible don’t advance easily on their jobs. 13) We are looking for decent apartments for our staff. We prefer the ones in a fairly respectable location and which are fairly inexpensive. 14) Women are not given their proper places in politics. The ones that are in politics are harassed and marginalised. 15) Many wild animals have gone into extinction. The ones that are in existence have been driven far from the human abode. 16) It is predicted that some Nigerian languages may soon go into extinction. The ones that will remain may not be as rich as they used to be. 17) Many Africans have adopted foreign religions. The oneswho have not, are as confused as ever. 18) The boys are dirty. I am referring to the ones that are last on the line. 19) The pigs are well-fed. The ones in the garden actually look like special breed. 20) The medical experts are fantastic. The ones who treat women and children are simply wonderful.
These example sentences should be enough to illustrate the difference between once and ones. The latter (ones) should replace the former (once) in the context under review.
Sample 2: “Folashade according to the group lodged a formal complain with the Nigeria Police and invitation was extended to Adegboyega but he never honoured it.” (Man who dumped wife and married Anjorin…Opera News, 8 October, 2022)
Let’s note the word complain which occurs in the following context: “ lodged a formalcomplain with the Nigeria Police.” The slot in which the word occurs certainly belongs to a noun. But is the word (complain) a noun? Not at all. Here lies the problem. The form is not a noun but a verb. The noun form is complaint. We now devote attention to illustrating the usage of the verb (complain) and the noun (complaint).
Now read the following sentences: 1) You cannot complain because you partly created the problem. 2) The man complains too often about food but he hardly gives his wife enough money for domestic matters. 3) Nigerians don’t want to pay taxes but complain about poor infrastructure. 4) Western nations often complain about the Nigerian democratic culture forgetting their sordid influence on our history. 5) You have a right to complain and we also have a right to ask you for a better alternative. 6) I would rather complain openly than grumble and backbite. 7) Christians are not to complain about their leaders. Rather, they are to pray for them and, where possible, counsel them. 8) Customers are already complaining about the reduction in the quality and quantity of our products. 9) Students have been complaining about poor quality of instruction. 10) The followers who complain too much about their leaders may lack leadership qualities. 11) Are you surprised that some people complain about God?
The noun form is complaint: 1) Your complaints are usually baseless. 2) The committee members will not entertain frivolous complaints. 3) All petitions and complaints must be accompanied by supporting documents. 4) The woman says she is sick and tired of her husband’s unending complaints about almost everything. 5) I have stopped complaining since my complaints have yielded no positive results. 6) We have lodged a formal complaint against the accountant regarding delay in payment of salaries. 7) The leaders will be forced to act when the complaints are becoming too frequent. 8) Your complaints are being addressed by appropriate authorities. 9) You should not allow your complaints to degenerate into insubordination. 10) Your complaints must be devoid of bitterness, hostility and hatred. 11) Their complaints have nothing to do with money. 12) Repeated and habitual complaints will wear the leaders out.
Do not say: My *complains are many. Say: My complaints are many. Do not say: God hates *complains. Say: God hates complaints. Do not say: Your *complains are receiving attention. Say: Your complaints are receiving attention. Do not say: I don’t have any *complain. Say: I don’t have any complaint. Do not say: This *complain is unheard-of. Say: This complaint is unheard-of. Do not say: She has been repeating the same *complain month after month. Say: She has been repeating the same complaint month after month.
Three other words—and their usage—are worth considering here. 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 restrained myself 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. 7) A sound sense of restraint is usually a function of cultural education.
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).
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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.