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I'm trying to write the sentence,

Lower-grade soldiers made up two-thirds of the putative high quality army.

My original sentence was:

Lower-grade soldiers made up two-thirds of what was supposed to be a high quality army.

To make the sentence more efficient and more suitable for a formal paper, I tried looking up one word that would fit in there and came up with putative. Am I using the word properly?

I was also considering reputed, but the definition of putative ("commonly regarded as being: the putative father") seemed to fit better for what I'm trying to get at.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

“... The putative high quality army” is grammatically incorrect, while “... the putatively high quality army” is grammatically correct but clumsy or misleading. A phrasing like “Lower-grade soldiers made up two-thirds of what was, putatively, a high quality army” would be slightly less awful. Your original sentence with “what was supposed to be” would be a better choice than any of the phrasings with putatively. However, you might also consider using a near-synonym, ostensibly: “Low-grade soldiers made up two-thirds of an ostensibly high-quality army”.

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+1 I agree with every single point. I think you would sooner use putative immediately before a noun (not before another adjective), where the noun expresses a status that can be disputed. –  Cerberus May 20 '13 at 21:41

I would consider simply using "supposedly" in that sentence. If you want something more fancy "purportedly" is another possibility that may be closer to the meaning you want.

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