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Here is a phrase:

Don't read the books that you don't really like.

Can I change it to the following one?

Those books that you don't really like, don't read.

My primary interest is technical writing. Still, even in technical writing, I would to avoid phrases that sound too weird.

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  • I realise you are referring to more than one variety of fruit, hence fruits, but it still makes me squirm when I see this. You can say fruit and still retain the notion of apples, bananas, pears as a collective. Jun 15, 2020 at 13:22
  • @BruceMurray I have replaced "fruits" with "books" to remove this ambiguity.
    – user90726
    Jun 15, 2020 at 13:26
  • I'm out of my depth here. I don't like the second phrase; it just seems wrong and I would avoid using it myself. However, it could be perfectly acceptable as a grammatical construction. It sort of puts me in the mind of "don't ask, don't get". Wait for a more informed response.. Jun 15, 2020 at 13:30

2 Answers 2

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Those books that you don't really like, don't read them.

It's possible but casual, not suitable for technical language. It would be okay in speech.

Structurally this is two sentences. The first is a reduced sentence composed of a single noun phrase. This is equivalent to a complete sentence like:

I'm referring to those books that you don really like.

The second sentence is a short imperative that uses the pronoun "them" to refer to the noun phrase mentioned in the reduced first part. I've then spliced the sentences together with a comma, because we're being casual here.

Rhetorically this makes sense: you name the thing that the person needs to think about and then the instruction is short and punchy. The initial phrase could have question intonation asking "Do you know those books?"

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While simply reversing the original sentence sentence as written is not natural, there are still a few ways it could be done.

First, you could break it into two sentences:

Those books that you don't really like? Don't read them.

However, if the intent is to form a simple statement, that wouldn't work.


Another possibility, as a simple statement, is to turn it into a conditional:

If you really don't like those books, don't read them.


Last, you could turn it a general statement:

Those books that you don't really like must not be read by you.

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