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I read this in an English text book written in Japanese. The title is “本の世界,” “a world of books.”

One world you are certain to touch in college is that of books. Have you considered the nature of books? Their magic is one blessing available to all men, but only a few can accept it. A modern tragedy is that many persons, far from learning to appreciate books actually turn their backs upon them.

I am Japanese, and so maybe use not good words and harm you unconsciously. However, I never mean to offend you but always respect you, natives. I will be glad to receive answers in easy English.

First, in the third sentence, “Their magic is one blessing available to all men, but only a few can accept it,” what does the “one” mean? Does “one” represent “magic” or ”a world?” Or does “one blessing” present as a noun? I want an accurate grammatical answer.

Second, why the author used “many persons” in the fourth sentence? Is there anything slight difference from using “many people?”

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  • Rin, to say natives like that is somewhat odd. Native speaker is what you are looking for. Also, rather than "all men", try: everyone and people for persons. :)
    – Lambie
    Dec 12, 2023 at 16:18
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    What is the source of this text? It appears to be from a practice test or exercise?
    – ColleenV
    Dec 12, 2023 at 16:18
  • 1, Kate Bunting, ok, I understand that “wanna” is so informal and casual that you tell me that. I will use want to instead of wanna. 2, Lambie, oh, I made such a easy mistake!! Also, I was wrong because I look up not only native speakers but also all people speaking a language well. They are all my teachers.
    – RIN
    Dec 13, 2023 at 0:37
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    3, ColleenV, I don’t know the source. I read this in an English text book written in Japanese. The title is “本の世界,” “a world of books.” However, I think that the title is not the true title of the source but the one which the text author made. 4, I will comment later on those following nice answers and opinions. I am not familiar without this website and need time to respond you correctly. Thank you very much.
    – RIN
    Dec 13, 2023 at 0:37

1 Answer 1

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The "one" refers to "blessing". This implies (without explicitly stating) that there is more than one blessing. When I read the paragraph you quote, my immediate reaction (before I read your question) was that it should be "people" not "persons". "Persons" here does not carry any different meaning, it should be "people". Apart from that the writing is reasonably good and grammatically robust. It gets a bit mystical for me, but that's just personal taste.

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    "Persons" is not grammatically incorrect, it's just un-idiomatic. This is an example of flowery language: making deliberately un-idiomatic choices and using more words than necessary to set a tone.
    – YonKuma
    Dec 12, 2023 at 13:41
  • Compare this question and others. Dec 12, 2023 at 13:55
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    @timchessish I have to disagree. This is no way sounds like a non-native speaker; it sounds like a speaker enchanted with their own erudition and lightly tripping across unusual phraseology.
    – YonKuma
    Dec 12, 2023 at 14:18
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    @YonKuma, I would say clumsily tripping rather than lightly tripping. They may be trying (unsuccessfully) to be fancy, which fits with the rest of the quote. Dec 12, 2023 at 14:28
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    Flowery language is basically never the right choice, but it is what it is.
    – YonKuma
    Dec 12, 2023 at 14:35

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