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The sentence is:

To solve a complex problem, there is always a simple way which everyone can understand.

Do you think that this sentence is grammatically OK?

Why I am asking it is because I would like to put "to solve.." after "a simple way" but it is really confusing.

There is always a simple way to solve a complex problem, which everyone can understand.

I think it is really confusing so the first one is better.

Do you agree?

3 Answers 3

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The two sentences mean different things

1.

To solve a complex problem, there is always a simple way which everyone can understand.

This says that everyone can understand the way. It is probably what you are wanting to say and it is grammatically acceptable in British English. However, in American English, they make a distinction between "that" and "which". You sentence should then be:

To solve a complex problem, there is always a simple way that everyone can understand.

I would prefer this last version in both American and British English.

2.

There is always a simple way to solve a complex problem, which everyone can understand.

This has a totally different meaning, especially in American English. It means:

Everyone can understand that there is always a simple way to solve a complex problem.


The most difficult aspect of your sentence to interpret is that it is not true! There aren't always simple solutions to problems!

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  • 2
    "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 19:38
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Both versions of the sentence are grammatically correct. The change in grammatical structure changes the meaning of the sentence.

My first impression of the first example is that "everyone can understand" the "simple way".

My first impression of the second example is not that "everyone can understand" the "simple way". Instead, my impression is that "everyone can understand" the (claimed) "fact" that "[t]here is always a simple way to solve a complex problem".

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  • Totally agree with you. So we can say that the first one is grammatically correct, can't we?
    – Jawel7
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 20:00
  • Both are grammatically correct.
    – danch
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 20:15
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Your second sentence flows better.

There is always a simple way to solve a complex problem, which everyone can understand.

I offer

Everyone can understand the simple solution to a complex problem.

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  • You've changed the meaning of the sentence with your suggestion though. Now it's about the fact that a simple solution is generally understandable, rather than the fact that a simple solution always exists.
    – danmcb
    Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 12:37
  • @danmcb the first sentence is ambiguous anyway, so rather than change the meaning, I picked one. Commented Jun 1, 2021 at 12:42

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