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I have a paragraph as follows:

Those who are most uncomfortable in uncertain situations, those with the least courage, often like to state that some people are born this way and you cannot change who you are. There is some truth to that. It is just that some people are not born courageous, all of us are, and you can change who you are; in fact, everyone who is not courageous anymore has obviously already changed

What does “there is some truth to that” mean? And if “ some people are not born courageous, all of us are”, why did the writer say “everyone who is not courageous anymore has obviously already changed”

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    The writing is murky. The negations are unclear. Are you certain you have not dropped a word? "There is some truth to that (statement)". Some truth = a grain of truth, that is, a partial truth. The statement is not completely false or wrong. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 4 '16 at 14:39
  • @TRomano. No, I have not dropped any word, so the paragraph is hard for me to understand. – thegioibian Nov 4 '16 at 14:48
  • There is some truth to that refers to the first sentence. It means: true in part. – Lambie Nov 4 '16 at 15:11
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I think what the author is trying to say in the last sentence is

It is not true that "some people are born courageous". All of us are born courageous.

But the writing is really bad, because the placement of the "not" makes it look like the author is saying

Some people are born not-courageous.

and then the part "all of us are" looks like "all of us are born not-courageous". But that seems to contradict the next part, which says that everyone who is not courageous must have changed...which can only mean they were born courageous! So unless the author is completely contradicting himself, he can only mean "It is not true that 'some people are born courageous."


This is sometimes an issue in English when you want to negate a sentence or only part of a sentence - you have to be very careful about how you phrase things, or the meaning becomes unclear (even to native speakers!)

some people are not born courageous (that is, some people are born courageous and some are born cowardly)

is not the same, logically, as

not "some people are born courageous" (that is, it is not true that only some people are born courageous; we are all born courageous)

But you can't literally phrase something in English as "not 'some people are born courageous'", so people sometimes phrase it very awkwardly in an attempt to say it.

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What does “there is some truth to that” mean?

Technically, the writer is saying that there is some truth to the idea that some people are born lacking in courage and you can't change who you are. Which they later directly contradict.

I think what they mean is that they recognize that it's not easy to "change who you are" and become more courageous once you've lost your courage.

And if “some people are not born courageous, all of us are”, why did the writer say “everyone who is not courageous anymore has obviously already changed”

The writer is saying that it's not true that only some people are born courageous. They're saying that everyone is born courageous, and people who are no longer courageous have changed who they are; which, they're saying, demonstrates that people can change who they are, so, there is always reason to hope that a person who has become cowardly (or, well, not-courageous) can change who they are and become courageous.

This is without a doubt not the place for airing personal opinions on extraneous subjects, but this is a point on which I suffer a strong urge to air an opinion.

My take is that people can't change themselves, but others can.

Identical twin studies have fairly well established that people have incredibly strong genetic predispositions. So in a very real way, you can't help yourself, your behavior will be what your genes dictate that it will. But your genes don't say that you will behave a certain way no matter what. They merely say that you'll behave that way in the absence of sufficient external pressure.

Can your husband quit smoking? Nope. He is utterly physically incapable of it. Unless you leave and tell him you'll come back after he has quit and has convinced you that he'll never smoke again. Then all of a sudden he can! It's a miracle! It's like flipping a switch.

Can rapists avoid raping? Nope. Unless we castrate rapists. Then you bet they can! It works like magic.

Are people responsible for their behavior?
Nope.

Does it matter?
Not at all.

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