Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher thought to have died of syphilis, was the victim of a posthumous smear campaign by anti-Nazis, new research shows.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/nietzsche-died-of-brain-cancer-20030506-gdgprc.html

Do you find the passage in bold OK? It is as if Nietzsche himself thought to have died of syphilis. I presume that the correct meaning suggests that this is the opinion shared by the public. So I would write "the philosopher who is thought to have died of syphilis".

1 Answer 1


It is correct.

This passive phrase omits the "by" part (which is okay) so we have to use context and common sense to understand who was doing the thinking. And we would have to conclude that it means "The philosopher thought by many people to have died of syphilis"

It is not necessary to have "who is thought", the simple particle phrase has the same meaning. The only flaw in the sentence is the "garden path". You might start parsing it as "The philosopher [Subject]- though [verb]", but then have to go back and reparse as a noun followed by a particple phrase. However it didn't seem surprising or hard to understand to me.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .