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I hope you can help me. I have recently found this sentence "improving safety should not be considered merely a law obligation, but also a concrete economic opportunity". I was wondering if the position of merely is correct. Thank you.

marked as duplicate by AndyT, Scott, Skooba, Lumberjack, John Lawler Sep 1 '18 at 3:56

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  • Where do you believe it belongs? – user305707 Jul 30 '18 at 7:32
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I'd write this as:

improving safety should not be considered merely as a legal obligation, but also a concrete economic opportunity

(law obligation is not grammatical).

merely could also come after as:

improving safety should not be considered as merely a legal obligation, but also a concrete economic opportunity

If there is any difference in meaning between the two, it's not apparent to me as a native speaker of UK English.

  • Thank you, Alfred. Your help was precious. There was something strange in that sentence but I was not able to figure it out. I thought it was the word merely but it was something worse. Thank you very much. – Vale Apr 30 '18 at 10:50
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Improving safety should not be considered merely a law obligation, but also a concrete economic opportunity"

I would make the following suggestion:

Improving safety should not be considered merely a legal obligation, but also a real economic opportunity."

Just a suggestion.

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The position of the 'merely' with respect to the indefinite article makes a difference.

In "merely a legal obligation", the 'merely' refers to the entire noun phrase following it, so would expect a contrast with something other than an obligation.

In your example, that's an "opportunity".

In "a merely legal obligation" the 'merely' refers to the adjective "legal", so would expect a contrast with another kind of obligation, for example:

"It is not a merely legal obligation, but also a moral one"

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