All the photographs in this book, unless stated otherwise, date from the 1950s.

Can I replace "unless stated otherwise" with "unless they are stated otherwise"? Does the sentence make sense to you?

  • 3
    I think if it was shorten from anything, the simplest one would be, "unless (it is) stated otherwise". This "It is" is a preparatory-it. I haven't consulted any references yet, though. Sep 17, 2014 at 10:06
  • 1
    Idiomatic usage in the context you have provided is "unless stated otherwise". The statement should remain as is. Moreover, your suggestion, "unless they are stated otherwise", is ungrammatical. Sep 17, 2014 at 13:25
  • If you simply want more words, consider "All the photographs in this book, unless they are labeled otherwise, date from the 1950s." Sep 17, 2014 at 19:54

1 Answer 1


According to Miriam-Webster, the meaning of "to state" in this context is

"to give (specific information, instructions, rules, etc.) in writing"

Hence, "unless stated otherwise" refers to the possibility that the writer may or may not state that the date of a certain photograph is different. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/state)

Given the above meaning, I do not see how the statement "the photographs are being stated" makes sense or is equivalent to the short form "unless stated otherwise". A suitable longer version is (see also comment by Damkerng T.)

unless it is stated otherwise

  • Thank you. What does "it" in "unless it is stated otherwise" stand for? Is it "photographs don't date from the 1950s"?
    – April
    Sep 17, 2014 at 15:50
  • 1
    The it serves the same purpose as in "It is raining", or "It is time to go", see englishpractice.com/grammar/preparatory-subject . The expression "unless stated otherwise" in your example means that pictures without any further comments are from the 1950s, whereas pictures from other years will have a note/comment that gives the date. Sep 17, 2014 at 16:04

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