1

I want to write the sentence:

Bill helped him when he needed to overthrow the current leader, who is a bully.

Is there anyway to make that sentence flow better? For example, can I somehow use the word bully as an adjective:

...when he needed to overthrow the bully leader.

And the sentence sounds odd. Which word can I use for better flow that would work in day-to-day language?

1
  • 1
    One would normally use bullying for the adjective form.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 2, 2016 at 13:45

4 Answers 4

2

Unlike some of the other answers I think you can get away with bully leader. You're not really using bully as an adjective but forming a noun phrase. However to me it means the leader of the bullies (rather like gang leader), not the bullying leader you seem to want.

2
  • In informal speech you could say “the current bully of a leader”
    – Jim
    Jan 2, 2016 at 16:55
  • @Jim you certainly could, or bullying leader as suggested elsewhere.
    – Chris H
    Jan 2, 2016 at 17:59
1

The word bully can be used as an adjective. But it does not mean what you think it means. Here is the Wiktionary definition of the adjective:

  1. (US, slang) Very good; excellent.
  2. (slang) Jovial and blustering; dashing.

In other words, the adjective and the noun form of the word have differing meanings.

If you are intent on using bully in this sentence, you could simply say:

Bill helped him when he needed to overthrow the current bullying leader.

Or, with a new word:

Bill helped him when he needed to overthrow the current intimidating leader.

2
  • the current bullying leader. indicates that he is bullying currently, instead of describing his personality. Right? Jan 2, 2016 at 6:04
  • "the current bullying leader" can have two interpretations. 1) The current leader who is bullying. 2) The bullying leader who is current.
    – Kyle
    Jan 2, 2016 at 6:09
1

Bill helped him when he needed to overthrow the current leader, who is a bully.

The word bully isn't commonly used as an adjective in English. The phrase the bully leader doesn't work particularly well. For day-to-day language as opposed to formal writing, the Original Poster could try a construction called a right dislocation. This is when some noun-phrase is reiterated at the end of the sentence, but with a different phrasing. This noun phrase is normally the Subject or Complement of the verb. The reiteration normally clarifies the identity of the noun phrase in some way:

  • I went to see Bob Marshall, the Managing Director.

In the sentence above the phrase the Managing Director gives us a more salient description of Bob Marshall for the purposes of the story.

For the Original Poster's sentence, if they wanted to use a right dislocation they could try either of the following:

  • Bill helped him when he needed to overthrow the current leader, a ferocious bully.

  • Bill helped him when he needed to overthrow a bully, the current leader of XYZ.

I'm not sure that the adjective current works here. Current usually refers to the time of speaking. If the bully is the current leader, then it would seem that he hasn't been overthrown. The Original Poster might with to use the modifier then instead, or use the adjective previous:

  • Bill helped him when he needed to overthrow a bully, the previous leader of XYZ.

  • Bill helped him when he needed to overthrow a bully, the then leader of XYZ.

The adjective previous seem to work better, in my opinion.

2
-1

Bill helped him overthrow the current leader who was a bully.

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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