You can see the quote beneath on Google Books, but I've double-checked it on Westlaw.

The highlighted dependent clause looks wrong to me, as I can't pinpoint the subject of "what did not appear"? "on what grounds" is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adverbial adjunct.

enter image description here

  • 3
    It's court stenographerish for "but the reason for this was not specified." – Hot Licks Apr 20 at 23:14
  • 2
    Is it bothering you that on what grounds appears to be acting as the subject of did not appear? Would you prefer that it were the grounds for which did not appear or whose grounds did not appear? – tchrist Apr 21 at 0:19
  • Or perhaps it's not on what grounds that bothers you. Maybe you think it should be but on what grounds was not stated? – Jason Bassford Apr 21 at 2:48
  • 1
    The reason [for the petition being refused] was not made apparent in court. – Kate Bunting Apr 21 at 7:21
  • 1
    This is quite an interesting question, actually. My gut instinct aligns with the asker’s: “but on what grounds did not appear” is at least borderline ungrammatical (and very garden pathy), whereas “but on what grounds was not stated” is more acceptable (though still, I would say, quite awkwards). I suspect this may be because the plural grounds and the singular was clash so explicitly, so there’s less risk of garden pathiness, but I’m not sure. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 22 at 11:41

The sentence is perfectly grammatical. If you read the whole paragraph, Oliver filed with the court (presented) a petition for appointment of new trustees of the testator‘s will. This (referring to the petition) was opposed (resisted) by Ray & Bush, but the grounds for opposing the petition did not appear (were‘t stated in anything Ray & Bush filed with the court in opposition). Nonetheless, the petition was denied. So “on what grounds” refers back to the petition for appointment of the new trustees.



The petition was resisted but the grounds for resisting it were not provided.


A modern, more ordinary (but less pithy) phrasing would be "the grounds in support (of the resistance to the petition) were not presented to us (for consideration or scrutiny)".

"Grounds" is used in the sense of "a set of one or more reasons comprising a justification (of or for something)".

"Appear" is used in the sense of "move or arrive within view (of a particular person)".

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.