I will go to the only left independent bookstore in my city

a correct expression?

It doesn't sound exceptionally good to me... could you advise on how to express the same meaning in a better way?

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    ... the only independent bookstore left in my city ... – bib Feb 12 '15 at 15:37
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    (Posting as a comment because I can't explain why any of this is true) If you want to use "left", it has to come after "bookstore": ...to the only independent bookstore left in.... If you use "remaining" instead of "left", it can go in both places: ...to the only remaining independent bookstore... or ...to the only independent bookstore remaining... – Marthaª Feb 12 '15 at 15:46
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    It's correct if it's the only "liberal" bookstore in your city, or, perhaps, the only one on the left bank of the river. Otherwise as @bib said. – Hot Licks Feb 12 '15 at 17:31
  • Hearing this, I would wonder if the store in question carried Socialist manifestos and copies of Mao's Little Red Book. – Wayfaring Stranger Feb 12 '15 at 21:38
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    I would typically say "The last independent bookstore remaining in my city." To me, saying "last" instead of "only" is a bit more clear. I can't prove why it's a good construction, but I thought I'd post as a comment. – apnorton Feb 12 '15 at 22:04

There are some adjectives that do not precede the noun they modify, but the follow it.

Left, in the sense of remaining (and coming from the verb leave) is one of those.

Note that strictly speaking left as opposing right is an adjective, but left meaning "remaining" is a participle that can be used attributively. It is used in some ways like an adjective, but it's not exactly the same thing.

We can use left preceding a noun, but then it is the opposite of right:

Will you take the left door or the right door?

If I remove one of the two doors:

There is only one door left.

So the correct phrasing of your sentence would be

I will go to the only independent book store left in my city.

Unless you do mean a book store that sells books expressing specific political views...

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  • Thanks, just a a little side question: if I had to use I will be going instead of I will go , can I still use to after that, or does it become at ? – jj_ Feb 12 '15 at 16:29
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    +1 But interestingly, you could say I will go to the only remaining bookstore ... – bib Feb 12 '15 at 16:34
  • @jj_the preposition doesn't change just because of the verb tense, so it stays to. You can "go at the bookstore", but that would give the impression you would relieve yourself there... – oerkelens Feb 12 '15 at 17:31
  • @bib true, remaining is an interesting adjective, it can go after and before the noun. – oerkelens Feb 12 '15 at 17:31
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    @HotLicks: strictly speaking, following Pullum, it's not an adjective, but an attributively used participle. I'm not sure that distinction is 100% relevant here, but I will add a note :) – oerkelens Feb 12 '15 at 17:36

In idiomatic American English, we would tend to say, "I am going to the only independent bookstore left in my city".

A "left independent bookstore" implies they are politically-leaning to the Liberal end of the spectrum. And that might be what is meant - but it's most likely not.

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  • Note that there are countries where liberal (and/or neo-liberal) are terms associated with the political right. A left bookstore might cater to Trotskyists, or anarchists, or other rather illiberal types. – choster Feb 12 '15 at 17:32
  • @choster - but not in the US, which is where I specified the usage to be =D – warren Feb 12 '15 at 18:11
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    What I meant was: how is the following sentence idiomatic? "I am going to the only independent bookstore left in my city." – twip Feb 12 '15 at 21:07
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    I understand that what was asked in the question was nonstandard, but not ungrammatical. What I am asking is why you would call your example sentence idiomatic: just trying to zero in here. We aren't calling this idiomatic in terms of meaning, but in terms of form? "The syntactical, grammatical, or structural form peculiar to a language." (merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idiom ) – twip Feb 13 '15 at 15:43
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    @twip - yes, the form :) – warren Feb 13 '15 at 18:05

"I will go to the only independent bookstore left in my city" or, preferably, "I will go to the only remaining independent bookstore in my city"

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    you still say "independent bookstore remaining" .. putting the "remaining" before "independent bookstore" makes it sound non-native (as an American, that is) – warren Feb 12 '15 at 15:46
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    As Al Stewart sings: "There is an independent bookstore, the last one that remains, all the others you might look for have been eaten by the chain ..." – djna Feb 12 '15 at 16:15
  • @warren I'm American and "only remaining independent bookstore" sounds more natural than putting "remaining" at the end. – Mr. Bultitude Feb 12 '15 at 18:38

The normal construction would be 'the only independent bookstore left in my city', with the presumption that all the other bookstores in town were chain stores.

In some cities where political specialty bookstores can thrive (San Francisco or London, e.g.), then it is possible the speaker could mean the only left-wing or leftist bookstore, but then "independent" would probably be redundant.

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