We can say--

Five Important Tips to Bring Success to Your Business

But then, what about -

Five Important Tips that Bring Failure to Your Business

I was thinking of a title like this -

Five Important Factors that Contribute to your Business Failure


Five Important Hazardous Factors that can Make You Sick for More than a Month

Whenever we utter the word 'important', we get a positive vibe drawing our attention. Said that, 'important tips' have to be positive. Is it possible to use it in a negative way?

I'm not asking about using the words - 'unimportant' or 'not-important'.

  • 2
    I think if "important tips" sound positive, it's not because of "important" but because of "tips". Some Google Books examples: "the most important evils". Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 9:23
  • that's interesting @DamkerngT. But do you see that... "the most important..." is generally thought to have a positive note
    – Maulik V
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 9:24
  • Even further... can 'tip' be negative then? @DamkerngT. Because 'tip' by definition is just a piece of advice.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 9:25
  • 2
    You don't use 'tips' alone when the essence will bring failure, 'tips' are more of digested perspective/advice of the experts based on their knowledge and experience. You need to plug-in the word "avoid" so as not to make the statement sound absurd (the sentence examples aren't wrong, but they're strange, and rather ominous). I'd use, 'Five Important Tips to Avoid Bringing Failure to Your Business'. have you tried using the word true, or wise negatively? You can. But you need proper context and skills in using oxymoron (good will seem bad, and vice versa). i.e., true lies, wise fool.
    – shin
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 9:51
  • 3
    What do you mean by "okay to use"? Are you asking if it is grammatical? It is grammatical. Is it sane advice? Are they sane tips? No, they are not. Who needs advice on how to sprain their ankle? Who needs tips on how to ruin a business? That's why I am focusing on "tips".
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 10:54

1 Answer 1


Your examples give titles, not sentences. The exigencies of title-writing are different from those of sentence-writing.

Five Important Things that Can Cause a Business to Fail is grammatical but the title would be better without "important".

"Important" means "having significance" and, by extension, "warranting attention" or "to consider" or "to be considered".

So, in these titles:

Five Things Warranting Attention that Can Cause a Business to Fail.

Five Things to Consider that Can Cause a Business to Fail.

"warranting attention" and "to consider" are otiose.

P.S. I will also go out on a limb here and say that "important", just like "warranting attention", creates a virtual restrictive clause that clashes with the actual restrictive clause in the title.

  • This gives a better view +1
    – Maulik V
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 11:11
  • I disagree that the modifier is otiose. There are thousands of factors that contribute to business success and failure. From an article that claimed to be talking about important ones, I would expect an analysis of of not just whether the factor contributed to success or failure, but also how strongly, so as to judge its importance. It might even compare the factors it considers important to other factors that might commonly be considered important. None of those expectations would come to mind without the word important.
    – Eph
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 12:34
  • Additionally, this answer never actually addresses whether the word important might not have the right connotation to modify nouns with a negative connotation.
    – Eph
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 12:38
  • I have no clue what you mean by "nouns with a negative connotation". Pestilence? Simony? Larceny? Slime? Excess? Feature-bloat? Taxation? Hyperbole?
    – TimR
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 13:14

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