0

When I read the following sentence, I was filled with uneasiness. Is this construct possible?

A book is not always a good book just because it is written by a famous writer.

The original sentence is found here, which looks like a collection of past exam questions for Japanese high schoolers.

I immediately thought I say:

It is hard to determine if a book is good just because it was written by a famous author.

I’m not comfortable of using narratives when the purpose of communication is to give an exposition. The original sentence is in a style of giving a definition of a book, while the speaker is arguing a value of a book.

  • Good Q for Writing – Kris Mar 31 '18 at 7:40
  • 'Is this construct[ion] possible? asks about the acceptability of the sentence (I've addressed what I believe to be the point at issue). I've adjusted the title question to match the body question to make your request on-topic, rather than adjusting the body question and then close-voting. Deciding on the appropriateness of using a perfectly grammatical sentence in a given situation is discourse interpretation and off-topic on ELU. Though I can't imagine many would disagree with the claim that 'A book is not always a good book just because it is written by a famous writer.' – Edwin Ashworth Mar 31 '18 at 8:30
0

'A book is not [always] a good book just because it is written by a famous writer.' is fine: grammatical and idiomatic.

Collins Cobuild explains this well, though I'd say the expression is not formal (ie would be out of place in only the most formal of contexts) rather than informal:

just because phrase [informal, spoken]

You use just because when you want to say that a particular situation should not necessarily make you come to a particular conclusion.

Just because it has a good tune does not mean it is great music.

Just because something has always been done a certain way does not make it right.

...

I do not have any rights just because I have been here a long time. [The Sun (2016)]

[which could have be written, with a slight change in focus]

Just because a person has been here a long time does not mean they [always / automatically] have rights.

It is understandable to worry about the possible ambiguity; without the 'always' or 'automatically', 'A book is not a good book ...' and 'I do not have any rights ...' are garden-path lead-ins. But the 'just because ...' is recognised as adjusting the meaning of

'A book is not a good book ...' / 'I do not have any rights ...'

to

'It would be wrong to assume that a book is good ...' / 'It would be wrong to assume that any rights that I have are mine ...'.

.............

But the sentence

It is hard to determine if a book is good just because it was written by a famous author.

while an obvious (but unnecessary) attempt to address the surface-level ambiguity, does not work. You need say

It isn't safe to assume / state that a book is good just because it was written by a famous author.

  • O’oh, it sounds like I’ve been saying it all wrong... but I wonder if anybody actually say what you’re suggesting. Besides, I’d like to use positive in a sentence. – wordsalad Apr 1 '18 at 14:07

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.