My premise is that "consult on" means "give advice on".

They couldn't have done it without the help of the world's greatest land reclaimers; the Dutch, who consulted on the project.

But what does "consult someone on something" mean? For example,

I consulted Jack on the experiment.

Does it mean

a) I gave Jack advice on the experiment.


b) I asked for advice from Jack on the experiment.

1 Answer 1


The trouble with 'consult' in all its forms is it can be either way round.

There's a job title of 'consultant'.
They consult on projects, but equally they are consulted for projects.
They consult on the task but are consulted for the task.

The only real way to separate these is by context. You can't even rely on the distinction between 'on' or 'for', because people will arbitrarily swap them round.

So, if you 'consulted Jack on the experiment' - you consulted him, but he consulted on the experiment.

The only really 'safe' form is if you consult a dictionary. Dictionaries have never been known to consult on research.

  • So, the answer is B. It muddles water even more now because I came across this: Then you would become a consultant and people would pay you by the minute so that you can consult them on whatever their needs are. It seems to me that it is ambiguous.
    – user1425
    Aug 15, 2022 at 10:40
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    Yup, the entire point of my answer is that it's ambiguous, relying solely on context & also the accuracy of the context. Theoretically the answer is b, as I already said, because you 'consulted Jack', you didn't consult 'on the experiment'. Aug 15, 2022 at 10:45
  • Yes, common sense, context and prior knowledge help to resolve such an ambiguity. Why would the Dutch, Europe's greatest experts on land drainage, come to England to seek advice about an English project? They came, of course, to give advice. Aug 15, 2022 at 11:06
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    @user1425 "Then you would become a consultant and people would pay you by the minute so that you can consult them" - no, we would never say "you consult them" in this context; rather, they consult you. As GFA says, to consult somebody means to ask them for advice. To consult on a topic means to give advice.
    – stangdon
    Aug 15, 2022 at 12:19

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