[a law] Build on [a precedent]

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nagomi

Senior Member
Korean
"Those laws, I think, would work well for Roberts partly because they build on the court's last decision that favored abortion opponents, the decision upholding a ban on so-called partial birth abortion. There are laws banning dilation and evacuation, which is the most common second-trimester abortion procedure. Those, too, could build on that victory for abortion opponents from 2007."

Is "build on" in this context idiomatically accpeted in its basic form [build]? I think it is supposed to be "be built on" since it's building off of a precedent. This is part of an interview so there's room for mistakes.

source: What Supreme Court's Ruling Might Mean For Abortion Rights In The U.S.
 
  • Oswinw011

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Build on: to use (something that has been done in the past) as a basis for further work, development, etc.

    Hello,
    Build is an intransitive in this context. So be built on is unnecessary.
     

    nagomi

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Build on: to use (something that has been done in the past) as a basis for further work, development, etc.

    Hello,
    Build is an intransitive in this context. So be built on is unnecessary.
    Does that mean it can be used in present tense? I thought it would at least "built on"
     
    'built' for 'build' would be an error. The original sentence is fine. Yes, you could say, "Laws are built on earlier decisions."

    Note: Your thread title shows a possible confusion. It's not a law "build on" precedent, which looks to you, wrong. It's "could build on" in the second case.
     
    Last edited:

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Build (on) can be used transitively or intransitively.

    TRANSITIVE. The judge builds his rulings on previous rulings. (Passive form: The judge's rulings are built on previous rulings.)
    INTRANSITIVE. The rulings build on previous decisions made by the judge.

    Your quotation uses build intransitively. All the examples are in the present tense form to illustrate the 'general truth' usage.
     
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