When using the word consensus in a sentence, is it correct to say consensus on, over, or, of? For example if someone were to say,

In 1960s British politics, there was consensus [correct word] the National Health Service?

3 Answers 3


It depends.

  • You may be speaking of a consensus concerning or about or respecting or with regard to the NHS—that is, a general agreement about what that institution should do or what should be done with it, or something of that sort.

  • You may be speaking of a consensus in the NHS, some general agreement about something held by the officers staff of that institution. I daresay some might accept a consensus among the NHS in that sense; I wouldn't be very comfortable with that, but I'm not very knowledgeable about whether the NHS comprises in any sense a coherent body of people.

  • 1
    Consensus is a picture noun, so it can take a complement clause. Usually this is a tensed clause, with a that complementizer: The consensus was/They reached a consensus that the roast was done. Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 0:41
  • @JohnLawler 'Picture noun' is concept I have not encountered. I am moved to echo Beckett: POZZO:Wonderful! Wonderful, wonderful sight! Silence. ESTRAGON:(irritably). Expand! Expand! Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 0:51
  • 'Picture noun' is a technical term, and I'm not responsible for it. But I have expanded on it here already. Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 1:26
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    In general, if I use a term (say "picture noun") that anyone doesn't understand, they can just Search user:15299 "picture noun". That's what it says in the search box on my ELU home page (or whatever it's officially called). By now I've got quite a few posts where I explain what I mean and what the terms I use mean. Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 1:29
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    @StoneyB On ELU, 15299 is the highest possible GO-TO-WHEN-YOU-FEEL-TOTALLY-LOST Error Code and signifies "The explanation you so desperately need can be found here." :)
    – Kris
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 5:39

See the collocations of consensus with usage examples.

The example sentence is possibly not well-structured. Your only choice seems to be within for the given structure.

In 1960s British politics, there was consensus within the National Health Service.


It's "consensus on". I've just corrected it in an academic text for publication.

Other options are possible, for example a Google search for "consensus regarding" get half a million hits, whereas "consensus concerning"only gets 120,000 or so, perhaps because people don't like repeating "con-" twice in succession.

Trust me, I'm a translator :-)

  • Traduttore, traditore.
    – rajah9
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 19:25

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