English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I’d like to use the phrase “in its own right” to mean “in itself” as in:

This subject has no practical application, but is interesting in its own right.

Is this a correct usage of the phrase? How is this understood by native speakers? Also, do you know of good alternatives?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by MετάEd, TimLymington, FumbleFingers, Kris, Hellion Jun 14 '13 at 15:47

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

@MετάEd I already looked up the phrase in some dictionaries, but the entries don’t clarify the word usage to me in this case. I cannot tell from them whether this usage is correct or not. Also, I recall seeing this phrase used in “subject to be studied in its own right“. – k.stm Jun 13 '13 at 14:59
Also, I read the help page, saying word-choice and word-usage questions are welcomed here. Doesn’t this classify as a word-choice or word-usage question? How is this question not appropriate? – k.stm Jun 13 '13 at 15:04
Questions which can be answered by simply consulting a good reference book are off topic. But sometimes references don't tell the whole story. That's why we ask you to show your research results in the question text. Can you please edit your question to show your own research efforts and what you found inadequate about the results (why you need the advice of an expert). – MετάEd Jun 13 '13 at 15:21
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Yes, “interesting in its own right” is a grammatically correct phrase, properly used, and likely to be understood by most native speakers.

Reasonable alternatives include adverbs based on any of the following:
inherent, “naturally as part or consequence of something”
innate, “Inborn; native; natural; as, innate vigor; innate eloquence”, etc.
intrinsic, “Innate, inherent, inseparable from the thing itself, essential”

For example: “This is an impractical but intrinsically interesting subject.”

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.