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  1. It is not generally acceptable but sometimes reading a book difficult to understand is good to improve intellectual thinking.

  2. It is not generally acceptable but sometimes reading a book that is difficult to understand is good to improve intellectual thinking.

Which of the two sentences is correct ? (I wrote the sentences myself.)

Can I omit 'that is' in the sentence?

If not, could you please explain it clear why it does not make sense?

And I have heard about the rule that a subject-relative-pronoun cannot be reduced with the verb of its relative pronoun, could you tell me that for what reason the rule is made?

I assume that it be the reason to avoid misunderstanding meaning of a sentence, but I am not quite sure whether my assuming is correct or not.

  • The first two clauses (It is not generally acceptable, but sometimes) are syntactically irrelevant to the statement that follows. You could also discard the two syntactically irrelevant clauses within that statement, giving the basic construction Reading a book is good. There's no place for a "relativising" that there unless you include the clause Reading a book that is difficult is good. – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '18 at 15:31
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Why do you need the "but sometimes"? That unnecessary bit is ruining your sentence and increasing the ungrammaticality. Note that saying "not generally accepted" already states the "sometimes" nature of the proposition.

Here is your sentence, without the "but sometimes" and cleaned up (note that I changed "acceptable" to "accepted":

It is not generally accepted that reading a book that is difficult to understand is good for improving intellectual thinking.

If you're overly concerned about removing the "that is" from it:

It is not generally accepted that reading a difficult-to-understand book is good for improving intellectual thinking.

You can cut it down even further:

It is not generally accepted that reading a difficult book is good for improving intellectual thinking.

Or even:

It is not generally accepted that reading a difficult book can improve intellectual thinking.

  • I think you've shifted the intent of the statement by switching from not accepted but to not accepted that. – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '18 at 15:34
  • Sorry I have already edited the sentences before you answer my question. I should have looked over once again... (because a native speaker pointed out the errors), from 'It is not generally acceptable, but sometimes, that reading a book difficult to understand is good for improving intellectual thinking.' to 'It is not generally acceptable but sometimes reading a book difficult to understand is good to improve intellectual thinking.' – SinK Jan 14 '18 at 15:38
  • That's still bad. Just because someone is a native speaker doesn't mean they can write well. – Robusto Jan 14 '18 at 15:43
  • I think the issue OP is trying to explore concerns the acceptability of discarding that is in constructions involving an "infinitive verb-based adjectival compound", such as I only eat food [that is] easy to digest. My position is that in general, it's not a good idea. In any case, we'd often relocate the adjectival element to come before the relevant noun, as I only eat easy-to-digest food (where the hyphens are to some extent optional, and represent a meaningless concept in speech anyway). – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '18 at 15:51
  • @FumbleFingers: So you would find fault with usage in the adage "A penny saved is a penny earned"? – Robusto Jan 14 '18 at 15:54
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The pattern is

It is **good to do** {something} (in order) to {achieve a goal}.

It is good to do stretching exercises in order to stay limber.

And we can make a general statement without explicitly mentioning the goal:

It is good to do stretching exercises.

The predicate "it is good" is complemented by an infinitive construction:

It is good {TO DO {something} }

to do {something} is a subject that has gotten bumped out of subject position by so-called "dummy It". It has been "extraposed". Here it is not extraposed:

To do stretching exercises is good.

Your sentence follows the pattern at the top, which mentions a goal, and it would follow the pattern at the bottom, where the extraposed subject is made the actual subject, if it were not for the fact that it substitutes the gerund reading for the infinitive, to read.

But it has some extraneous material unrelated to the pattern which we can strike out for the sake of clarity and simplicity:

It is not generally acceptable but sometimes reading a book difficult to understand is good to improve intellectual thinking.

And let's replace reading with to read:

To read a book is good to improve thinking.

And now let's extrapose the subject and use dummy It:

It is good to read a book to improve thinking.

P.S. The clause difficult to understand is simply a modifier of book, a book [which is] OR [that is] difficult to understand.

Books hard to find can be expensive.

  • You seem to have covered just about everything here. Except... it might be worth pointing out that (imho, at least) your final example would be more idiomatically expressed with the first adjectival element before the noun (as is normal with adjectives in general). Hyphenated or not makes no difference in speech, where I'd normally expect Hard-to-find books can be expensive. – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '18 at 16:30
  • Books hard to find can be expensive is to my AmE ear no less idiomatic than Hard-to-find books can be expensive. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 14 '18 at 19:41
  • I'm more than a little surprised by that! Adjectival hard-to-find isn't all that common, so I didn't see any point in checking corpuses. But by implication I assume you's say the same about, for example, Books well written are enjoyable. As I said, I don't think hyphens are relevant, being just an orthographic convention that doesn't affect the actual grammar.... – FumbleFingers Jan 15 '18 at 15:27
  • Fortunately, Google Books doesn't distinguish between punctuation marks and spaces anyway, so I searched for of well-written books is and of books well-written is, which gave 56 hits for the former (the one I'd normally expect), and none at all for the "post-positioned adjective" in the second version (note that of and is areonly included in the search string to limit results to the syntactic context we're talking about here). – FumbleFingers Jan 15 '18 at 15:31
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    I don't think it rises to the level of "poetical" or ornate language by any means, but I would concede that the post-placement puts some additional emphasis upon the modifier. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 16 '18 at 19:01

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