You can say "right a wrong" & "righting wrongs" But can you say "wrong a right or "wronging rights"

  • Wrong can certainly be a verb and a right is a noun so the sentence is grammatical. But a dictionary will tell you that. Are you really asking about grammar? Making sense is not grammar; but again, your own intuition will tell you whether your phrase makes sense, just as it will tell you that colourless green ideas can't sleep furiously. – Andrew Leach May 17 '19 at 20:43
  • You might try looking in Google, with quotation marks in helpful places, to see whether people write sentences containing such a phrase. – aparente001 May 17 '19 at 21:04
  • "To right a wrong" is an everyday idiom and has a well-understood meaning. What I am not clear about is what would be meant by "wronging a right". What would it mean? – WS2 May 17 '19 at 21:27
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the OP has defaced his own post. – Cascabel May 18 '19 at 21:12

To "right" something means to restore to the proper condition. The object of this transitive verb is generally a situation, an act, a law, or some other intangible property.

A "wrong", as a noun, is an injurious, unfair, or unjust act, something which can be the object of "righting" per the first definition.

"Righting a wrong" is a phrase meaning to take that unjust act and correct it, which is both grammatically sound and idiomatic.

On the other hand, to "wrong" someone means to do wrong to them or to treat them disrespectfully or unfairly. The object of this transitive verb is a person. The noun "a right" has several meanings, none of which refers to a person (or to a just act such as would be the opposite of "a wrong").

Saying "wronging a right" does not, grammatically, make as much sense as the converse.

Nonetheless, because "righting a wrong" is a well-known idiom, people will sometimes say "wronging a right" as its opposite, to mean "taking a situation that is correct or just and making it wrong," such as reversing a correct legal decision, or introducing errors into a document that was originally correct.

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  • Yep, in all but the most starchy academic writing you could say "wronging a right" to imply an activity somewhat the opposite of "righting a wrong", if you could assume, with reasonable safety, that your audience was familiar with the latter idiom. – Hot Licks May 18 '19 at 21:10
  • Grammatically, "wronging a right" is fine. Semantically, less so. Grammar has nothing to do with sense (see my Chomsky reference under the question). – Andrew Leach May 18 '19 at 21:42

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