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English is not my first language, and in my language (Bosnian) we write just as we speak ; so from time to time, I encounter phrases which I know I have heard before, but am not sure if I am writing them correctly.

Do you say sound approach to describe an approach to a problem which is logical, makes sense, and is practical?

The reason I ask is that I could not find it in a reliable online reference, and I have a feeling that I am spelling it wrong.

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I think "sound approach" works well in your sentence. Please see english.stackexchange.com/a/50614/3306 for "sound engineering." –  rajah9 Nov 19 '12 at 14:05
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@tchrist I believe OP means that English orthography is not consistently either phonetic or phonemic, so he suspects that his failure to find his phrase in a dictionary is attributable to his now knowing the correct spelling. –  StoneyB Nov 19 '12 at 14:05
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Welcome to ELU, Dolphin, where the comments are frequently more educational than the answers. You may not find sound approach in dictionaries, but you will find the adjective sound - here, for instance, sense 3. –  StoneyB Nov 19 '12 at 14:09
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Thanks to all, I have to say you are very helpful and nice group. –  Dolphin Nov 19 '12 at 14:14
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Least we could do for the questioner who rolled our count over to 20,000. By the way, as you may see from the citations in tchrist's answer, English spelling was even harder four or five hundred years ago. –  StoneyB Nov 19 '12 at 14:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Used as adjective, sound can per the OED mean:

In full accordance with fact, reason, or good sense; founded on true or well-established grounds; free from error, fallacy, or logical defect; good, strong, valid.

And it is this sense that is operative here. They give four citations that appear especially relevant, albeit not especially recent:

  • C. 1440 Capgrave Life St. Kath. ᴠ. 1183 ― Youre counseyll in this is neyther saue ne sounde.
  • 1576 Gascoigne Steele Gl. (Arb.) 52 ― And sound advice might ease hir wearie thoughtes.
  • 1596 Edw. III, ɪ. i. 101 ― The soundest counsell I can giue his grace, Is to surrender ere he be constraynd.
  • 1697 Dryden Æneid xɪɪ. 42 ― Sound Advice, proceeding from a heart Sincerely yours.

In summary, I should say that your approach is therefore sound.

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Yes, a sound approach is accepted and idiomatic English. Here's what Merriam-Webster says about sound:

3
a : free from error, fallacy, or misapprehension [sound reasoning]
b : exhibiting or based on thorough knowledge and experience [sound scholarship]
c : legally valid [a sound title]
d : logically valid and having true premises
e : agreeing with accepted views : orthodox

You should try the dictionary before asking. Then ask a search engine to answer your question. Google, for example, show about 71,900,000 hits for a sound approach. They usually help and preclude the need to ask for help from others. We have this famous old saying in English: God helps those who help themselves. It's a platitude, but one worth testing every day.

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