I have a sentence in german that I want to translate:

Firmen scheinen XY zu benutzen, weil gesagt wird, dass XY besser ist.

I would translate this in this way:

Companies seem to use XY, because they say that XY is better.

Is it crystal clear that "they say" is used idiomatic here? I don't want to refer to "Companies" here, but to people in general - like, just to something I've heard, nothing I have a source for. Is there a better way to translate this?

  • 1
    I don't understand the original German, but if hat you want to convey is that what people in general say appears to be the reason why companies use X, I think it's unlikely that would normally be understood. By default, most people would assume "they" specifically refers to the aforementioned companies. You could at least reduce this ambiguity / misleading phrasing with something like because XY is thought to be better. But to be sure you're understood, just state it explicitly: because in their opinion XY is better or because people think XY is better Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


Not only is it not crystal clear, but most listeners/readers would probably think the opposite: it is crystal clear that they refers to companies.

You could remove the problem by phrasing the idea passively, as in the German text:

Companies seem to use XY, because it is said that XY is better.

But that sounds a little stuffy or managerial.

To my ears, this similar construction sounds a little better:

Companies seem to use XY because it is commonly believed that XY is better.

I cannot think of a way to communicate the idea with the casual sound of they say.

  • Perhaps "because everyone knows"? But only if you can be clear that it's tongue-in-cheek.
    – randomhead
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 12:57
  • Or you could put "they say" first: "They say XY is better, which is why companies use it."
    – nschneid
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 14:26

You must log in to answer this question.

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