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The idiom "Bring something/someone to light" means according to the Free Dictionary:

To reveal something, often something inappropriate or illegal.

I want to use it for something completely appropriate and legal, so I have looked for examples that use the idiom, as there is often in the definition, and found some which are about politics and controversial matters.

And I want to use it in the following scenario:

Someone answered a question that brought another question to light to the asker.

Is my usage of it suitable? If not, what is the alternative? (I need an idiom if possible)

  • I think you meant to write “brought another question to light”. Also, what do you mean by “to the asker”? It made the asker think of another question? – Mixolydian Mar 27 at 14:44
  • Yes about the asker issue. – Tasneem ZH Mar 27 at 14:48
  • @TasneemZh , you should just edit and delete the dictionary reference you mention. The dictionary is utterly, hopelessly incorrect. It only adds confusion. – Fattie Mar 27 at 15:12
  • @Fattie - It is a reference/source to where I found that definition. I've attached it to support my finding, not that it is a matter of correct or incorrect. – Tasneem ZH Mar 27 at 15:16
  • hi @TasneemZh ! Well, just so you are aware, the reference is utterly incorrect. I can really see no value in including a totally incorrect reference in a question. Your question is a very good one. I just see no point in including a totally incorrect reference?? Anyways, I have answered your excellent question! :) – Fattie Mar 27 at 15:21
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The idea behind the expression "bring to the light" or "come to light" is that prior to this the thing in question was "in the darkness". Darkness is often used as a metaphor for a place of hiding, so you can see why these expressions are normally associated with clandestine, or illegal things.

Having said that, I'm fairly certain I have heard the expression used in positive contexts. In legal matters, "new facts have come to light" may well be details that exonerate a person rather than convict them, and so they may not be unpleasant details at all.

An alternative expression might be "bring to the fore", which means that something is brought forward and made more relevant.

The sentence you proposed...

Someone answered a question that brought another question to light to the asker.

...might be better expressed as:

The answer to one question led to another question being asked.

Or simply

One question led to another.

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    it's completely and totally normal to be used in positive (or neutral) contexts – Fattie Mar 27 at 15:05
  • I would point out to the OP that one doesn't "bring x to light to another person". Otherwise, I agree. – Lambie Mar 27 at 15:18
  • Thank you so much. Great rephrasing of my sentence, and such a clear explanation of the idiom. – Tasneem ZH Mar 27 at 15:19
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    OP, you should be aware that "The answer to one question led to another question being asked." means something totally different from "The answer to one question, brought another question to light." Both are common, good - and different! – Fattie Mar 27 at 15:26
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    @TasneemZh What you just said: "an OP's question was being answered, and that answer brought to light another question for that OP" makes 10000% perfect sense. And that means the same as ""The answer to one question, brought another question to light." Whereas, "The answer to one question led to another question being asked" has a slightly different meaning; it just means that the new answer happening, resulted in someone else asking yet another question; it does not explicitly mean something was "revealed" by the first answer. – Fattie Mar 27 at 16:20
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You can use bring to light in all sorts of situations, but it means reveal, and your usage of it in the question isn't idiomatic, and arguably incorrect (in as much as 'incorrect' means anything). A question isn't generally revealed to someone, it occurs to them, or they think of it.

Also, while we can use to-prepositional phrases with reveal to indicate who gained knowledge from the revelation, we don't usually use it with the phrase bring to light.

I would tentatively agree with that definition that something brought to light is often inappropriate, illegal, or just generally not good for someone - but often is far from always. It can be something positive. For example, we might say:

Careful examination of the dead author's papers have brought to light a story that was never published.

There is no implication that this is a bad thing for the dead author, or for anyone; it's just that the term is often used for things that someone doesn't want revealed.

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    Sam, you say "your usage of it in the question isn't idiomatic". it's not clear what you are referring to? If you are referring to the OP's sentence Someone answered a question that brought another question to light, that sentence Someone answered a question that brought another question to light is totally and completely idiomatic and native-sounding. – Fattie Mar 27 at 15:18
  • Thank you very much, Sam. I, now, can confidently say that I understand what really the phrase means with its suitable and proper usages although there are still some arguments about it. – Tasneem ZH Mar 27 at 15:33
  • @Fattie I'll clarify when I'm back at the computer. – SamBC Mar 27 at 16:00
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Someone answered a question that brought another question to light.

This is 100% correct, normal, idiomatic, and sounds exactly like a native speaker or writer.

You are perfectly, totally correct.


Note (1) That being said!

It would be much clearer, less ambiguous, to write this:

Someone answered a question and the answer brought another question to light.

or perhaps

Someone answered a question. That answer brought another question to light.

It's clearer that you mean "the answer" is the thing which brought the new question to light. (Your sentence is a little ambiguous; it could mean that the question brought another question to light.)


Note (2) unrelated to the phrase you are asking about, your addition of "... to the asker" on the end is awkward-sounding.

If for some reason you insisted on stating that the bringing-to-light was for John, you would (probably) use the word "for".

The answer brought another question to light for John.

or

The answer brought another question to light for the asker.

.


Note (3) the "dictionary" you quote is simply utterly incorrect; ignore it.

  • Thank you so much for all the important notes you made. About note #1, I meant the first assumption which is again that the answer brought another question to light. As for note #2, I have a little problem with prepositions; thus my misusage of it doesn't really surprise me. And finally, about note #3, I think I'm going to take your advice. – Tasneem ZH Mar 27 at 15:28
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    hi @TasneemZh. In that case then I would indeed just say Someone answered a question and the answer brought another question to light. which is indeed only a small variation on your suggestion Someone answered a question that brought another question to light. to remove any possible ambiguity. As always, recall that English is incredibly, spectacularly, stunningly ambiguous - ! in spoken speech basically everything is ambiguous and depends heavily on context, so, the slight ambiguity in you suggestion is irrelevant (certainly in spoken English). Cheers – Fattie Mar 27 at 16:09

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