On meeting, he was upset and worried...

Is the use of on in this statement correct?


1 Answer 1


OED gives the following relevant sense:

  1. On the occasion of (an action); immediately after (and because of or in reaction to); as a result of; = upon prep. 7.

That fits your sentence just fine. The grammatical problem arises rather with the next two words. “On meeting” is a front-shifted modifier, and as such must modify he, the subject of the main clause; otherwise it is a dangling modifier. Thus he must be the subject of the verb to meet, which remains a verb even in the gerund form meeting. Now, if the word were, say, arriving, that would be no problem; but the notion of just one person meeting is bound to strike many as odd.

As a commenter has pointed out, the problem could be solved by providing the verb meeting with a direct object:

On meeting the Estonian delegation, he was upset and worried.

  • What is the object of the verb meeting here? It looks an incomplete, if a grammatical, sentence without specifying the object of meeting.
    – user405662
    Jan 7, 2021 at 13:58

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