Due to advances in photographic and imaging techniques, as well as plastic surgery, many celebrities appear deceptively flawless in magazines, movies or music videos. Therefore, while it is natural to aspire to be more like those whom we admire, the object of people's "natural" admiration may be that of an increasingly unnatural celebrity.

--from an sample essay book "100 Topics for TEM8 Writing" by Matthew Trueman

"that of" must refer to "the object of", but "the object of an increasingly unnatural celebrity" doesn't make sense to me. The following rewrite is easier for me to understand:

the object of people's "natural" admiration may be an increasingly unnatural celebrity.

  • 3
    You're absolutely right. It doesn't parse properly, and you've rewritten it better. Maybe find a better book to learn writing from
    – gotube
    Sep 14, 2022 at 16:39
  • @gotube Do you know a good argumentative essay collection? I trust the opinions of this website, but this is not a fact-based question, so I dare not post a question.
    – joy2020
    Sep 15, 2022 at 1:35
  • Sorry, I don't.
    – gotube
    Sep 15, 2022 at 1:37

1 Answer 1


It is an unnaturally awkward sentence. Nevertheless, it is grammatical: “that” is being used as a pronoun referring to “the admiration.” The meaning is

the object of people’s natural admiration may be [the admiration] of an unnatural celebrity

That of course does not make any sense. But English grammar does not preclude nonsense. Your re-write is good. This is an example of overwriting that leads to disguising an interesting thought in a fog of verbiage

What people naturally admire is becoming increasingly unnatural

  • "We were filled with admiration for her. She earned/won the admiration of her coworkers." Because of the use of preposition, I initially brushed aside the possibility that "that" refers to admiration.
    – joy2020
    Sep 15, 2022 at 1:24
  • @joy2020 You are correct that “admiration for … celebrity” would be much better than “of.” It is just a badly written sentence. You can figure out what the author wanted to say only by ignoring the normal rules of English grammar. Sep 15, 2022 at 9:37

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