Ground (for) vs. Grounds (for)
Thread poster: Mirko Mainardi

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:44
Member
English to Italian
Mar 26, 2017

I read a post on the fora saying that a sentence such as "... there is no ground for feedback" is wrong, because it should say "there are no grounds for", so, out of curiosity, I thought I would ask about this.

Is the singular always wrong in similar contexts?

On some dictionaries, I read that, when used like that, "ground" is 'usually' plural.

E.g.
From Merriam-Webster:
2
a : a basis for belief, action, or argument ground for complaint —often used in plural sufficient grounds for divorce

From the Cambridge dictionary:
[ C usually plural ] a reason, cause, or argument:
She is suing the company on grounds of unfair dismissal.
UK Do you have any ground for suspecting them?

Plus, there's a fair number of occurrences with the singular version out there. E.g. http://goo.gl/xfPTK4

So, could it be an en-GB vs en-US thing, rather than a right/wrong matter?

For instance, to my non-native ears, something like "there is ground for concern" sounds OK.

[Edited at 2017-03-26 11:32 GMT]


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 17:44
German to Serbian
+ ...
Source: Free Dictionary Mar 26, 2017

8. often grounds The foundation for an argument, belief, or action; a basis.
9. often grounds The underlying condition prompting an action; a cause: grounds for suspicion; a ground for divorce. See Synonyms at base1.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/grounds

Meaning 8 and 9 says "often" grounds, which makes me believe it could also be "ground" in some instances.

If it can only be "grounds", according to some native speakers, it may be a set phrase, collocation or an idiom (which is just set that way and fixed).



[Edited at 2017-03-26 11:51 GMT]


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:44
French to English
grounds/grounds Mar 26, 2017

"Ground" describes the land under your feet (the ground), or a piece of land whose limits are marked out for a specific purpose (football ground, playground).
When this "ground" is plural, it is in reference to a number (plural) of pieces of land marked out to indicate specific limits : football grounds. (Also for "coffee grounds", the remains of coffee that has been ground).

"Grounds", when the intended meaning is "reasons", usually expressing a degree of sufficiency, a basis upon which is founded, then it is plural.


UK: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ground

US: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grounds

There is nothing to suggest that when meaning a reason, an argument, that it can be used in the singular. It does not look like it is a UK/US thing either. I suspect that when used in the singular to indicate that there is only one reason - grounds implying that there are a number of factors influencing a particular decision or argument - then it is an example of incorrect usage.


[Edited at 2017-03-26 12:13 GMT]


 

Mair A-W (PhD)
Germany
Local time: 17:44
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
why not? Mar 26, 2017

Like m-w, my chambers paper dictionary lists "sufficient reason" as a definition of "ground" (sing.). (It has a definition of the n.pl Grounds, which is entirely unrelated). I do not see any ground(s) for saying that it cannot be used in the singular, where appropriate.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
It just is Mar 26, 2017

Grounds is what we say, logical or not

 

CARL HARRIS
United States
Local time: 10:44
Member (2013)
English to French
+ ...
Nikki’s logical explanation Mar 26, 2017

This seems to be the only logical explanation regarding “Ground (for) vs. Grounds (for).”

 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:44
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
KudoZ would have been a good fit Mar 26, 2017

Too late now, but IMHO this would have been more practical to post in KudoZ, as an English monolingual question. Many native English users help non-natives there with such dilemmas. Also, in KudoZ, people can use the "Agree" function and comment under the responses, so it is easier to read.

P.S: to post a monolingual KudoZ question, you need to select the same language for both source and target - that's all.

[Edited at 2017-03-26 20:21 GMT]


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 17:44
Member
English to Italian
TOPIC STARTER
KudoZ Mar 27, 2017

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:

Too late now, but IMHO this would have been more practical to post in KudoZ, as an English monolingual question. Many native English users help non-natives there with such dilemmas. Also, in KudoZ, people can use the "Agree" function and comment under the responses, so it is easier to read.

P.S: to post a monolingual KudoZ question, you need to select the same language for both source and target - that's all.

[Edited at 2017-03-26 20:21 GMT]


Thanks Katalin, but actually, I was more interested in hearing/discussing other people's opinions, expressed freely, rather than in choosing the 'right' answer to a question.

Not sure if anyone looked at the link I posted at the beginning, but there are lots and lots of occurrences of "ground" with a similar usage on Google Books, many of which seem to be dating back to the 19th century, but you can also easily find more recent occurrences (also used by native speakers).

Just to quote a few random occurrences: "There is no ground for thinking that we are deprioritising mental health." - http://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2016-04-28/debates/16042851000316/MentalHealthServices

"No. There is no ground for withdrawing the statement. There is no standing order for a retraction." - http://www.hansard.act.gov.au/hansard/2009/week01/210.htm

"In civil partnerships there is no ground for adultery whatsoever. Adultery can be grounds for divorce in same-sex marriage but the infidelity must involve members of the opposite sex." - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33718943

"On this view there would be no positive metaphysical doctrine; and the only task left for metaphysics would be to show that there is no ground for assuming any ultimate and all-embracing unity." - http://goo.gl/98ec5p

"We make no like assumption with respect to colors and there is no ground for making it with respect to places." - http://goo.gl/vNbgJH

"No Minister can be exempted or exempt him or herself from it on the ground of seniority." - http://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-01-11/debates/16011126000002/PointsOfOrder

"An employee has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by his employer on the ground that the employee believes or expresses a belief ..." - http://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2013-07-08/debates/13070845000227/Marriage(SameSexCouples)Bill?highlight=She%20sue%20divorce%20ground#contribution-13070919000022

"The American Arbitration Association, a nonprofit, said it allowed plaintiffs to reject arbitrators on the ground of potential bias." - http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/02/business/dealbook/in-arbitration-a-privatization-of-the-justice-system.html?_r=0

"The announcement could be interpreted as preparing the way for an attack on several universities, on the ground of recovering stolen weapons." - http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0604.html

"Callan kept Davis on the string for two months--until after the war began--before declining on the ground of family illness." - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/chap1/secretwarfortheunion.htm

"In a historic test of that principle — the first effort by the Government to enjoin publication on the ground of national security ..." - http://goo.gl/PViOAD

etc.

It is also interesting (IMO) to note how usage seems to have evolved over time (with similar patterns):

For instance, from Google Ngram Viewer:

chart?content=on%20the%20grounds%20of,on%20the%20ground%20of&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1;,on%20the%20grounds%20of;,c0;.t1;,on%20the%20ground%20of;,c0chart?content=there%20are%20no%20grounds%20for,there%20is%20no%20ground%20for&year_start=1800&year_end=2008&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1;,there%20are%20no%20grounds%20for;,c0;.t1;,there%20is%20no%20ground%20for;,c0


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:44
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I would accept the singular meaning one of many. Mar 27, 2017

I used to day that my husband agreed that smoking would be a ground for divorce.
We could think of other grounds, but that was a prime one.
We're still together, still strict non-smokers...


 


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