'On the grounds that', why groundS, plural?

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Disneyesque

Senior Member
Korean 
I am reading an English book and found the phrase 'on the grounds that'. I thought it might be a good phrase to use in common.
But I got confused now that it is said 'on the groundS that', not 'on the ground that'.

Okay, here is the original sentence, from Michael Sandel's <What Money Can't Buy>:
Many people would object, not only on the grounds that the admission fee is unfair to those unable to afford it but also on the grounds that charging the public to attend a congressional hearing is a kind of corruption.

- What is the reason to put s at the end, to make a plural, even though the reason is only singular? Is that just a habit? If I say 'on the ground that', is that gramatically incorrect or, awkward?

Thanks in advance.

Add. I edited as you recommended. Thank you Copyright =)
 
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  • Tazzler

    Senior Member
    American English
    I don't think it's strictly incorrect but it doesn't sound as good. In this sense the plural is commoner than the singular.
     

    Disneyesque

    Senior Member
    Korean 
    Thank you. I am obssessed to grammar, because I got straightly and strictly degraded on exams if I make an error! :-(
    But in case this is idiomatic, I am relieved, and from now will use it as much as possible to get it mine and get used to 'S' =) Thanks for all the help!
     

    Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    Grounds, meaning the reason for something or the basis for argument, is always plural. I'm not sure of the derivation of this, but I don't think I'd even call it idiomatic. It's often used in legal settings, e.g. "What are your grounds for divorce?"
     

    Disneyesque

    Senior Member
    Korean 
    I didn't know that ever. Thank you so much. I will purposely use 'grounds' when I want to mean the reason.
     
    In BrE, particularly in the law, we still distinguish between the singular and the plural. If there is a single ground for a claim, we say "What is the ground for your claim?" If there are more than one, We say "What are the grounds ....?"

    But the phrase is used a little sloppily and often people will say "grounds" where there could only be one ground.
     

    fotogreg

    New Member
    English - American
    Oh, this is not good, not good at all. Especially since this thread is 3 years old. I was looking for an answer now. I guess I will look elsewhere.

    <Side comment removed. Nat>

    Here in the USA, it is always "grounds". No matter how singular the reason. My problem that led me here is one step further. Since it is always "grounds", and the reason is usually singular (although the grounds could be plural: you shot and stabbbed him), is it "the grounds are" or can it be "the grounds is"? This is not as stupid or obvious as it seems. My phrase is "oddly the actual grounds for the motion is left out". The grounds are completely singular. So the choices are "the actual ground for the motion is left out" - which is not how we do it here, "the actual grounds for the motion is left out" - which seems technically correct but sounds weird, or "the actual grounds for the motion are left out" which sounds great but is completely wrong because there is definitively only a singular reason. HELP! lol. I think I will google some more now.
     
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    Speech habits in the UK are often different from those in the USA. Neither is right or wrong; they are just different.

    In BrE, as I said here when I was much much younger, we tend to stick to the logic of the language when we're being formal. The grounds are; the ground is. "Grounds" is never used as a singular. Even when people use it sloppily, they are not confusing grammatical singular with plural; they are confused about the actual number of grounds because they either don't know or haven't thought it through.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Grounds" is never used as a singular. Even when people use it sloppily, they are not confusing grammatical singular with plural; they are confused about the actual number of grounds because they either don't know or haven't thought it through.
    I disagree. In this website's "Culture Café" I wrote:
    But actually, I'm thinking of revoking my beef ban on "If mad cow disease was going to get you, it would have done so by now" grounds.
    I am clear that the actual number of grounds is one, and could not write "on 'If mad cow disease was going to get you, it would have done so by now' ground".
     
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