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From the post the meaning of "A tv series follows a main character"

In the course of telling a story, it can be said that one is "observing" the subject of the story. The writer is making observations, and communicating them through the story, so the reader or watcher shares in the observation: both "follow" the main character.

The phrase "it can be said" has a few occurrences on this site and more in Ngram Viewer.

I guess I understand the meaning of it, something like

... it is reasonable/understandable to think of the writer(s) and readers or watchers of the story "observing" the subject of the story

The question is when would I use the expression? I Googled it but didn't get anything helpful.

One situation I can imagine is when using metaphor to describe something. Is my understanding correct?

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  • Yes, your understanding is correct. It's a way of acknowledging something, often used ironically. If a man is marrying his sixth wife it can be said that he is a much married man. If a man drinks alcohol to excess it can be said that he is very fond of drink. Jul 30, 2020 at 14:43
  • Yes. "It can be said" is implying "it can be said, as a statement of what the truth is". Jul 31, 2020 at 2:11

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"It can be said" can also be phrased "we can say".

Searching the internet for either of these expressions leads to the same list of synonyms from powerthesaurus.org :

it can be said
you could say
you might say
you can say
it could be said
it may be said
arguably
we could say
it can be stated
it can be argued

Luckily, one of the items is the single word "arguably". This enables reference to (many) dictionaries. For example:

"used to say that a statement is very possibly true even if it is not certainly true"
(from merriam-webster)

Check the translations of "arguably" in your native language.

It can be said, that one uses the phrase "it can be said", when one wishes to propose an idea which is "probably true", while still being open to argument. The door is open to further discussion. At the moment though, let's just provisionally proceed with this "fact".

when would I use the expression? would I use it when describing a metaphor?

Let's try a metaphor. "You could say electrons are like little planets orbiting their sun, which in this case is the nucleus of the atom." That does seem to work. A metaphor is not exactly true, but mostly.

The purpose of the expression is to slightly reduce the certainty of your statement.

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