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I have a message "It is so short-sighted ... John to leave school".

I can't decide to fill in the three dot, "for" or "of".

My Friend told me that "[short-sighted] must be shipped with [of] and only [of]".

Please help me to fill in and explain to me why to use the filled result.

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  • Compare "It is risky for John to be left on his own". Here clearly we are saying that the situation is risky, not that John is risky. But "It is reckless of John to go out on his own" - here we are clearly saying that John is reckless. Either sentence could have "short-sighted" as the adjective, and they would mean different things. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 17:07
  • Either, with different emphases: 'For John to leave the school is so short-sighted.' // 'To leave school is so short-sighted of John." Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 11:43

4 Answers 4

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There's a meaning difference between for and of here, and it has to do with the meaning of short-sighted. That's a term that can apply to either a decision/plan/project -- an abstraction -- or to a person who plans and decides on (and may be undertaking) some project.

Thus,

  • He was short-sighted enough to leave the door open.
  • Leaving the door open was short-sighted/a short-sighted thing to do.

are both grammatically correct, and can report the same judgement. In a cloze procedure like the one asked for in the OQ, it could work either way, depending on whether the speaker intends to criticize John, or the decision for John to leave school (which may not have been John's decision, after all).

If the speaker says

  • It is so short-sighted of John to leave school.

they're criticizing John -- he's leaving school of his own choice, and he's short-sighted in doing so. The of is possessive, and John owns the short-sightedness. But if the speaker says

  • It is so short-sighted for John to leave school.

they may be criticizing John -- if he made the decision to leave school -- but they are really criticizing whoever made it, and saying that the decision was short-sighted (and so was whoever made it). For marks the subject of an infinitive, and for John to leave school is a proposition that can be proposed, discussed, regretted, and criticized independently of John.

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It has nothing particularly to do with the adjectival phrase short-sighted. This is a standard usage - It is/was so [adjective] of someone.

It was so careless of me to drop the plate. (I was so careless to do that.)

It was so mean of her not to share her sweets with you.

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  • 6
    It depends on whether the adjective applies to John or to the situation "John leaves school".
    – Barmar
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 20:44
  • Then how do we explain books.google.com/ngrams/…?
    – Greybeard
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 13:37
  • @Greybeard - As others have said, for is acceptable if it refers to a situation and not a person. (Also, some examples say "short-sighted for various reasons" and the like.) Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 16:22
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Both of and for can be used, see Google Ngrams shortsighted of,shortsighted for

It is [adjective] of John [to do something] = John is [adjective] [if he does something]

It is [adjective] for John = It is [adjective] in respect of John [if he does something]

Compare

It is good of John to help me. - John is good if he helps me

It is good for John to help me. -> John will feel good if he helps me.

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  • 4
    I think a better translation in the last line would be "John helping me is a good thing"
    – Barmar
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 20:46
  • 'Good for' is pretty unary (a colligation), unlike say 'short-sighted for'. Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 11:50
-1

Everything said about the different meanings of the use of "for" and "of" with various adjectives is of course correct in respect of those adjectives, but my feeling as a native speaker and experienced translator and author tells me that "short-sighted" isn't used with "for" but only with "of" - because it will only ever refer to John's own situation and not somebody else's. John Lawler's explanation of the different uses and meanings of the two prepositions doesn't work in the case of "for" because it is not common usage.

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  • Welcome to ELU. This is not an answer to the question asked at the top of the page. Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum: each answer attempts to answer the original question. If you disagree with an answer, write your own which answers the question.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Oct 25, 2022 at 12:11

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