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But Bates, ___ the perfectionist, continued to revise the poem. (From ACT test)

From the options given, I think both "ever" and "who is" are both acceptable answer to fill in the blank, but why "who is" is wrong? Since present simple can express a general situation or state, it is sort of like the meaning of "ever" in this context.

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"ever the..." is an idiomatic way to say someone is always inclined to be that way.

Saying "..who is the perfectionist" is incorrect. This isn't an idiom and would be taken at face value. The problem is the definite article - he isn't the only perfectionist you could refer to.

So, you could say in your example "...who is a perfectionist..." but it wouldn't be quite as poetic.

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  • I think the definite article "the" is specifying "Bate", as is the basic function of "the“” Dec 9, 2020 at 0:15
  • @Phantomwagerwallowgiltopus Correct. You could say "the perfectionist Bates" just as you could say "the movie star Tom Cruise", but if you use "who is" as you suggest that changes. You couldn't say "Tom Cruise, who is the movie star" because he isn't the only movie star.
    – Astralbee
    Dec 9, 2020 at 9:34

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