I have come across the following sentence sentence and I understand what it means.

China is a rare bright spot in an otherwise ravaged global economy

However, I am unable to construct sentences using "in an otherwise" phrase.

  • 3
    "It was an exciting moment in an otherwise boring day." [It was a boring day except for that one moment. It was a boring day apart from that one moment.] "There are two female students in an otherwise male class." "I found one rotten apple in an otherwise perfect box of fruit." "He made one spelling mistake in an otherwise flawless essay." Jan 13, 2021 at 6:18
  • @OldBrixtonian Your characterization of the word seems correct. Do you think Mary Shelley used the word wrong when she wrote, "I remembered also the nervous fever with which I had been seized just at the time that I dated my creation, and which would give an air of delirium to a tale otherwise so utterly improbable"?
    – Apollyon
    Jan 13, 2021 at 6:29
  • 2
    @Apollyon The OP's sentence uses "otherwise" to introduce something contrasting. In your example, it introduces something reinforcing. It still introduces an additional consideration, but not in contrast. in your example, "otherwise" could be replaced by "already". Jan 13, 2021 at 8:55
  • @JackO'Flaherty Was Shelley/s use of "otherwise" ordinary in the sentence? I'd have used "already" too, but it's doubtful if "otherwise" is commonly used that way in contemporary English.
    – Apollyon
    Jan 13, 2021 at 9:02
  • @Apollyon I don't have a feeling for how commonly it is used that way, in the past or at present. Jan 13, 2021 at 9:10

1 Answer 1


"an otherwise" is used to suggest that the adjective you're about to use is applies largely to the thing, compared to the adjective you used previously, which is only referring to a small portion. "in" is just a preposition and can change depending on what the thing in question is.

So, you might say that a shirt with generally good stitching but a poorly made collar had "A poorly made collar on an otherwise well-made shirt".

This would normally be used when the two adjectives are contrasting, e.g. you would not say "The excellent collar on an otherwise high-quality shirt".

  • How about "The beautiful decor makes the otherwise excellent restaurant popular among tourists"?
    – Apollyon
    Jan 17, 2021 at 12:54
  • @Apollyon That wouldn't make sense to me, as it would suggest that the beautiful decor made it less excellent.
    – elliotcm
    Jan 17, 2021 at 13:08
  • So "otherwise + adjective" carries with it the assumption that there is a contrast between the adjective and another elsewhere in the sentence. You could incorporate this fact in your answer.
    – Apollyon
    Jan 17, 2021 at 13:13
  • "Beautiful decor" and "excellent restaurant" are both positive descriptions, so they are not well linked by "otherwise."
    – Apollyon
    Jan 17, 2021 at 13:36
  • Oh I see what you're saying. Sure.
    – elliotcm
    Jan 17, 2021 at 13:38

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