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Google defines exert as

apply or bring to bear (a force, influence, or quality)

The dictionary has a example sentence:

the moon exerts a force on the Earth

Can I paraphrase it as "the moon bring the Earth to bear a force"?

  • "The Moon bringS the Earth to bear a force" - It is not common to use it in short sentences, but I believe it is a valid sentence – Amber Mar 27 '14 at 10:15
  • @Amber But it does sound poetic. Isn't it? – Man_From_India Mar 27 '14 at 10:21
  • Here is another similar post of this topic on ELL, which may be helpful – wang zhihao Mar 28 '14 at 3:26
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No. A better formation would be "The moon brings a force to bear on the Earth."

But "bring to bear" describes the application of an action where it did not previously exist, rather than a continuous action. So it would not be a good description of the moon's gravitational pull on the Earth, which has always existed.

Example from Wiktionary: The battleship brought her main guns to bear on the fort. (The battleship was not previously aiming at the fort, but now it is.)

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  • But I think the second meaning in Wikitonary will be more appropriate."To apply; to employ something to achieve an intended effect."(Every possible pressure was brought to bear on the minister to ensure the unjust law was not passed.). What do you think? – wang zhihao Mar 28 '14 at 2:53
  • @wangzhihao Well, that meaning implies there is a conscious actor applying the force, which is not the case here as relaxing has stated. – neubau Mar 28 '14 at 4:20
  • You can anthropomorphize the moon if it helps make your writing more clear -- "The moon brought to bear its light upon the city," while not strictly scientifically accurate, is a pretty image. The key is to understand that "bring" implies moving the force from one place and applying it to another place. So "bringing the force of gravity to bear" just doesn't read right. – relaxing Mar 28 '14 at 16:48
  • +1 what the moon is clearly not doing is bringing the earth to bear. It is gravity that is the object (if at all) rather than the earth. – Francis Davey Oct 13 '14 at 7:31

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