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I have a question to this sentence:

Sometimes you need to know if the book was really written by the author it claims to be and not by someone passing themselves off as them.

Is that correct? I am not sure about the usage of "passing off as them".

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the correct expression is 'pass oneself off as someone else' it is not clear if you are talking about ghost writers or just writers who illegally write under the name of someone else. –  Josh61 Mar 13 at 10:06
    
Thanks, of course. Could you advise how to rewrite to make it clear? –  SilkySand Mar 13 at 10:08
    
sure..but tell me what exactly you want to say....are you referring to ghost writers? –  Josh61 Mar 13 at 10:11
    
I want to say: Sometimes it is important to know if the document was written really by the person whose name is on it and not by some fraud who uses the same name. –  SilkySand Mar 13 at 10:14
    
ok, so you might say: It is important to know is the book is written by the original author or by someone else who is writing using the author's name. –  Josh61 Mar 13 at 10:19

2 Answers 2

"someone passing themselves off as them" is technically correct but it is very hard to read because the people that "someone", "themselves" and "them" refer to each take effort to keep straight.

A cleaner way to say this, with differences highlighted:

Sometimes you need to know if the book was really written by the accredited author instead of someone else.

If you wish to use the idiom, "passing themselves off as" it could look something like this:

Sometimes you need to know if the book was really written by someone passing themselves off as the accredited author.

The two primary changes are (a) replacing "the author it claims to be" with "the accredited author" which reduces the complexity of that clause and (b) moves the reference to the author to the end of the sentence so it can replace "them".

Now there is only "someone else" and "themselves" and they refer to the same entity. You could accomplish the same thing without using "accredited" but I find removing the extra "it" helps because moving "it claims to be written by" doesn't work very well at the end. Here it is with your original phrasing:

Sometimes you need to know if the book was really written by someone passing themselves off as the author [the book] claims to be [written by].

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I'd use "credited" rather than "accredited" (since the latter, at least in US English, means something more like "certified by an independent agency") –  keshlam Jun 29 at 22:50

There are less verbose ways to say it - you could say something like

"Sometimes one needs to be certain that person listed as "author" is really the writer of the book, and not a fraud penning under someone else's name."

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