Could you explain the Instrumental case to say such pfrases like that -

Do not justify your laziness that you are smart.

or from your sorce -

Intelligent idlers justify their idleness to their intelligence by setting their sights high.

But without the recipient of the justification because the recipient is the subject here and it is clear that they justify themselves.


  1. Do not justify your laziness by your intelligence/fatigue.
  2. Do not justify your laziness with your intelligence/fatigue.
  3. Do not justify your laziness by means of your intelligence/fatigue.

Maybe I should use 'excuse' instead of 'justify'? I am waiting for your any variants as well.

  • You say you have a source for your second example, but do not cite it. It is possible to interpret it as grammatical only by assigning it an odd meaning. That meaning may seem natural in context, but you provide neither context nor source. Feb 11, 2019 at 13:14
  • It was the explaination by Gary Botnovcan for my previous question. I do not know how to add such links.
    – Vitaly
    Feb 11, 2019 at 14:39
  • There is a “share” link under each answer or question that will give you a URL you can use to link from your posts.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 12, 2019 at 19:25

2 Answers 2


Your first example is not grammatical, and its meaning is consequently unclear.

Your variants of the first example are all grammatical, but they do not mean what you probably intended by the first example.

Part of the problem is that "justify" is frequently used instead of "try to justify." MW defines the word to mean "to prove or show [something] to be right, just, or reasonable."

Moreover, the variants are orders not to use your intelligence in order to find valid reasons for your idleness. I greatly doubt that is what you are trying to say.

Here is what I suspect you mean by your first example:

Do not claim that your intelligence justifies your idleness.

More simply

Your intelligence does not justify your idleness.

Your mention of an "instrumental case" suggests to me that you are trying to use a form that exists in your native language. Case is seldom a useful concept in English, which has only remnants of inflection.


I shall not try to explain differences between Russian and English because I know no Russian. I know that Russian that suffixes on the ends of words (inflections) heavily affect meaning. English is much, much less reliant on suffixes to create meaning. English, however, is heavily dependent on lexical means to create meaning. For example,

"Justify" may be used in the following way

Person X justified his actions


Person X argued successfully that his actions were correct.

Notice that the subject is a person, and the meaning relates to the phyical action of speaking or writing as well as implying a result from that action.

Some people also say

Person X justified his actions

to mean

Person X tried to argue that his actions were correct, but was not successful

I prefer using "try to justify" in that case to avoid ambiguity. But again, a person is the subject, and the meaning relates to a physical action.

However, "justify" can be used in a different way

Y justifies X's actions


Y is the reason that X's actions were correct

Now the subject is not a person, and the meaning does not relate to a physical action, but rather to a logical relationship.

Your example was trying to squeeze both meanings into a single sentence.

Now you can do many things in English, but you cannot make a single utterance of one word convey two different meanings in the same sentence. You could use a word in two different senses in one sentence if the word is used two different times. That would be grammatical, but would usually be bad style.

Don't try to justify your idleness by saying that your intelligence justifies it

That is grammatical, but I would never write it. The shifting meanings of "justify" make it confusing.

  • I understand you partly. I think I have lack of knowledge to explain in English. Could you clarify your last phrase - Case is seldom a useful concept in English, which has only remnants of inflection.
    – Vitaly
    Feb 11, 2019 at 15:01
  • Maybe I should use 'excuse' instead of 'justify' - excuse an action by reason of sickness. Do not excuse your lazzyness by your intelligence.
    – Vitaly
    Feb 11, 2019 at 15:31
  • Yes. I wanted to say this meaning - Do not claim that your intelligence justifies your idleness. For Russian language both have the same meaning. So you can not use 'justify' in Imperative mood in this case?
    – Vitaly
    Feb 11, 2019 at 16:05
  • "Excuse" and "justify" have similar but slightly different meanings so we would be having the same discussion. There is no bar against using the imperative mode with either verb. Feb 11, 2019 at 18:48
  • I have tried to address your comments by expanding my original answer. Feb 11, 2019 at 19:46

English doesn’t have an instrumental case. What English does have are prepositions.

Hit it with a hammer.
I learned through diligent practice.
We improved the process by upgrading the equipment.

These prepositional phrases express semantic roles like instrument, means and method. Your variants work in the same way.

However, your variants do not relate to the original example from The French Lieutenant’s Woman:

Intelligent idlers always have [set their sights high], in order to justify their idleness to their intelligence.

In this sentence, “intelligence” is not an instrument or a means or a method. Instead, it is a target or a recipient or a beneficiary —- it is the thing that accepts the justification.

Yes, it is quite possible to justify something with your intelligence. It is also possible to justify something to your intelligence.

Justify it to the law.
Justify it to your friends.
Justify it to yourself.
Justify it to your own mind.
Justify it to your own intelligence.

None of these include an instrument. All of these include a recipient.

I don’t speak Russian, but I suspect that this “intelligence” requires the dative case. The instrumental role carries a meaning that is comletely different from the author’s intent.

  • You are right, “intelligence” requires the dative case because of 'to' preposition for Russian. But I speak about - ...the judge (person, Charles) justifies it by reference (reason, intelligence)..
    – Vitaly
    Feb 12, 2019 at 8:53

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