Is the use of the phrase The fact that correct here?

The fact that you made a joke about black Americans by comparing them to people who smoke weed and are always high, shows the preconceptions that the whites have about them.

Doesn't fact means something that is a universal truth or does it also refer to an opinion?

  • "The fact (that)" doesn't actually have a meaning. It's a handful expression used to nominalize a clause. – user178049 Feb 2 '18 at 5:10
  • Could you please clarify the meaning of nominalizing clauses? – ValarMorghulis Feb 2 '18 at 5:12
  • @Valar I mean it's used to change a clause to a noun. 'That he is a nice person' is a clause; 'the fact that he is a nice person' is a noun phrase. It's usually used before a preposition, which does not freely take a clause as a complement. – user178049 Feb 2 '18 at 5:16

A fact is something that is verifiably true. They either made the joke or they didn't. So it's a verifiable fact that they made the joke (and the only thing the writer is calling a fact is that the other person told a joke).

Whether the joke is true or not doesn't change the fact that the joke was told.

Whether the writer's claim that the joke implies a certain attitude among white people is correct or not doesn't change the fact that the joke was told.


"The fact that" is a usage made when one wants to use an important statement in order to strongly prove, disprove or establish another statement.

It's usage is limited to arguments or dramatic situations. It might sound impolite in formal settings such as email or business meetings.

A more polite way to establish something would be using "Based on" or "can be gathered". Example:

Based on your joke about black Americans smoking weed, it can be gathered that there are preconceptions that white Americans have about black Americans.

However, do note that the logic of the above sentence does not hold good because often one needs many data points in order to prove or disprove something general. Trump's behavior is not representative of that of all white Americans, just as Obama's behavior is not representative of all black Americans.


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