Am I correct that grounds, although sounding plural, is actually singular?

More specifically, which is better:

I view Fedora as a testing grounds for new ideas.


I view Fedora as testing grounds for new ideas.


Under the definition to which you refer, it is almost exclusively used to denote a tract or area of land given over to a specific purpose, or the area surrounding and belonging to a building or event, and in such cases grounds is used rather than ground. It is not exactly singular as it conjugates as any other standard plural. Grounds can however refer to a single specific tract or domain.

In your specific example you could use either the singular ground or the plural grounds, but if you use the latter then you should conjugate appropriately and omit the indefinite article a.

I believe the singular testing ground would be more appropriate as you are referring specifically to the environment in which you test (rather like referring to the type of soil in which you might plant a tree) as opposed to the domain in which you test (like referring to the gardens in which the tree is planted.)


"Grounds", as in the area of land attached to an institution, is plural

"Testing ground" is more common than "Testing grounds", and is singular.


"Grounds" is a plural covering various details unimportant to outsiders: The grounds cover six acres and include a croquet lawn and a rose garden. Similarly,The testing grounds outside Warminster include a mortar range and an engineer recovery area. But "testing ground" is not uncommon, particularly for an area where various things can be put through the same tests. It sounds as if this is what you have in mind.

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