Consider the sentence:

What matters is to render the idea from the field of theory into practice.

Could the verb render be replaced by the verb translate without changing the meaning? Which is the better choice? If neither is a good choice, can you think of a more appropriate verb?

  • Collins gives a sense that could be considered to license this usage: render (9) to translate (something) into another language or form. AHDEL (same link) restricts the allowable DO of the verb in its 'transfer' sense tightly: render 1f. To transfer (a suspect or prisoner) from one country to another by rendition. I'd go with Silenus, and say 'allowable but clunky'. Oct 15, 2015 at 17:56
  • Maybe I should have been more precise in what I was driving at. Your answers show, however, that you got my point. You´ve been of great help, indeed! Thanks a lot!
    – Yogi Bear
    Oct 15, 2015 at 19:26

2 Answers 2


I think the sentence sounds a bit clumsy (maybe because of the redundancy of talking about both an idea and theory, and the redundancy of using "field of").

I would prefer the following:

  • What matters is how we translate the theory into practice.
  • What matters is how we translate the idea into practice.
  • What matters is how we execute the idea.
  • What matters is how we put the idea into practice.
  • What matters is to render the idea practicable.
  • What matters is to render the idea into practice.


For whatever reason, "render" (when used with an object) appears to disallow proximity to the "from"-headed preposition, making the structure you ask about sound funny. For example, (1) seems fine but (2) seems marked.

  1. The translator rendered 'dog' into French.
  2. *The translator rendered 'dog' from English into French.

Interestingly, if you invert the prepositional phrases, it sounds better.

  1. The translator rendered 'dog' into French from English.

I'm not sure why this would be. But note that other change of state verbs (e.g. "change") also seem to favor a certain prepositional order:

  1. The witch changed John from a man into a pig.
  2. *The witch changed John into a pig from a man.

(4) sounds fine. (5) sounds a bit off.

One reason "render" might necessarily take the "into"-preposition before the "from"-preposition is that the "into"-preposition is what's called a complement of it, whereas the "from"-proposition is an optional adjunct. Complements of verbs always appear closer to the verbs than their adjuncts.

  • I see your point. Thanks for the alternative versions, which sound much better, of course. Quite apart from the clumsiness, however, what I had in mind was whether the structure render/translate ... from ... into is correct.
    – Yogi Bear
    Oct 15, 2015 at 19:31
  • In the OED under the entry render v. I found the following example, which is quite dated. That´s why I`d like to know if this structure: render from … into still works. III. 14. To bring (one) into a state or condition (obs.); also, to cause to be in a certain state. rare. 1490 Caxton Eneydos ix. 37 That it maye playse the‥to rendre theym from theyr lacyuyte in-to‥shamefaste chastyte. @Silenus
    – Yogi Bear
    Oct 15, 2015 at 21:42
  • That´s a good point, which had never come to my mind. But what do you make of this structure to express transition from one field/realm to another? E.g: “The term has been rendered by analogy from psychology into sociology.” And what about the verbs translate, extend/expand instead of render in this context? @Silenus
    – Yogi Bear
    Oct 16, 2015 at 14:23

I go for translate.

There are, however, other options, depending on the situation in which the statement is made. Equally good, then, might be any of the following:

  • drag (especially if there is resistance to getting practical, or getting one's hands dirty)

  • morph

  • transform

  • bring

  • transmogrify

  • transfer

  • translate

  • carry

  • transplant

  • graft (this is a neat one, imho)

  • remove . . . and plug/put it into practice

  • to allow the idea to undergo metamorphosis from theoretical to practical

  • to remove it from the realm of theory and put it into practice

  • to take the idea and transform it from theory into practice

  • to pull the idea from the realm of theory into the realm of practice

  • Thanks for the chart to choose from! What about the verb transfer in the above context? Would it work: transfer from ... into?
    – Yogi Bear
    Oct 15, 2015 at 19:37
  • @YogiBear: Yeah, I guess "transfer" would work, albeit not very elegantly. If you're after elegant, I'd use the word graft; it oozes elegance. Although as I've said, "translate" ain't too shabby, nor is the simple "bring the idea from theory into practice. There are others, too. I'll likely think up some more. When I do, I'll let you know. Don Oct 17, 2015 at 3:40

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