That such a ____ of precedent would be countenanced was itself unprecedented in the court, a bastion of traditionalism.

I am practicing for verbal test in GRE therefore its very important to break down a complex sentence to simple sentences and moreover its better to guess a word for the blank space.

What bothers me is that the above sentence has "would be" and "was" in a complicated way. Can you please how to break down the sentence therefore I can easily understand the sentence and guessing for the blank would be easier.

  • Are you sure it's precedent and not precedence? It may help determine what the blank is – Peter Dec 13 '15 at 16:26
  • 1
    yes it is precedent there. they can be both used as adjective. Isn't it? – Rayan Ahmed Dec 13 '15 at 16:28

Subject phrase: {That such a (reversal) of precedent would be countenanced}

predicate: was

predicate complement: {itself unprecedented in the court {, a bastion of traditionalism} }

{a bastion of traditionalism} is a noun phrase in apposition to the court.

The court was such a bastion of traditionalism that for it to not object to a reversal of precedent was unprecedented.

Why would be?

The court is so traditional that its countenancing of a reversal of precedent is contrary to expectation. The modal would be stresses the "remoteness" from fact or expectation.

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