0

I am wondering if "of why it is the case" is the same as "explaining why it is the case". I don't think so, but I see people assume that it's the case when it is highly doubtful that it is the case.

Here are some examples to clarify what I am asking:

This is an example of why it is the case.

This is an example explaining why it is the case.

It seems weird to say "of", because it supposes that "why it is the case" is the content of the example when it is not and it's the content of the example that explains why it is the case.

1

Certain abstract nouns followed by an "of"-phrase can be paraphrased as abstract nouns followed by a participial clause.

For example:

A- This is a picture of how the machine works.

We can say that (A) is synonymous with (B):

B- This is a picture showing how the machine works.

Along the sample lines, (C) and (D) are similar in meaning:

C- This is an example of why it is the case.

D- This is an example explaining / illustrating / showing why it is the case.

The preposition "of" does not establish identity between "picture" or "example" and what follows, but introduces what is shown or what is exemplified by the picture or example. Therefore, using the participles "showing", "illustrating", "explaining", "depicting" and the like will work as a valid expansion of the preposition "of".

1

"This is an example of why it is the case." is idiomatic and grammatical for informal English.

The actual logic in the meaning of that sentence strikes me as a little "off", though. I can't quite figure what it would mean to give an example of why something was "the case". I gather from your question that you have similar doubts about it.

However, I could imagine

"This is an example of why you should wear safety glasses when using this tool." [picture of punctured safety glasses]

That one sounds perfectly normal to me, and I think the meaning would be acceptable to all but the most precise logician/philosopher-types.

The grammar of "This is an example of why..." is fine. I think it's the meaning of your specific example that's the problem.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.