I'm not sure if my syntax is correct - I'm trying to say something that would correspond to German pattern je... desto. So:

The more difficult it is to define a notion, the higher are chances it would take the form of a woman.

EDIT wow, it never occurred to me that my meaning would come across as sexist. After reading the comments, I'd better explain what I wanted to say - thank you for pointing that out to me! I wanted to say that if you have a vague idea of something (like freedom, justice, goodness, etc.), it is most likely that philosophy and/or history has personified it as a woman. I hope that helps.

  • You should add an example in German just for reference, as it is unclear what the word order issue is.
    – user3169
    Nov 14, 2015 at 19:20
  • There is no German sentence, I just wanted to make clear what I was getting at in terms of syntax.
    – Pandica
    Nov 14, 2015 at 20:55
  • Can you give examples of the sorts of things you think have been personified as female? It's possible that this is specific to your culture and not necessarily common to every culture.
    – Catija
    Nov 15, 2015 at 0:27
  • Pandica, Your remarks make it easier to understand what the sentence is trying to say. However, I am confused what you mean by "word order" and je desto. Put another way, which part of your sentence do you think might be worded in the wrong way? (I think that's what @user3169 was asking about, too.)
    – J.R.
    Nov 15, 2015 at 0:29
  • I was not sure if negation was expressed correctly, if I need inversion or not. @Catija I'm sure that the idea behind my sentence is not specific to my culture - take French, for example, or Greek mythology, for that matter.
    – Pandica
    Nov 15, 2015 at 10:49

2 Answers 2


The natural way to say this would be:

The more difficult it is to define a notion, the higher the chances are it would take the form of a woman.


While I'm not completely sure what you are trying to say, let me take a few stabs at it:

The harder it is to define a notion, the greater chance it came from a woman.

Try also:

The harder it is to understand an idea, the more likely it is that it came from a woman.

That implies women come up with ideas that are hard to understand. Or if you're trying to say that, the harder it is to explain something the more likely that you're talking to a woman, then try

The harder it is to explain something to someone, then the more likely it is that you're explaining it to a woman.

Edit: Based on feedback above

The more abstract and vague that a value or principle is, such as freedom or justice, then the more likely it (is/has been) personified as a (women/female).

I strongly prefer stating it as "personified as" rather than "taking the form of". Because clouds in the sky take the form of objects we're familiar with, while the Statue of Liberty is the personification of freedom.

  • I thought it meant if it's harder to explain, then it must BE a woman. That phrase is impenetrable, though clearly sexist. Nov 14, 2015 at 20:24
  • And my first reading of it, I thought it was "The harder it is to explain an idea, the more likely it is it came from a woman." And then as I was writing the answer, I came to the same reading as you. I included both for the asker to decide or clarify. Nov 14, 2015 at 20:37
  • @JustinYoung I suspect that you're both wrong. The sentence in the reply differs from the one in OP and I believe that the difference is semantically significant. I'm thinking of a situation where we're describing an entity and the more difficulties we face describing it, the higher is the likelihood that we're trying to define a woman. That way, the notion of a woman is intricate, versatile and multifaceted - a complex deity. Still sexist statement but diminishing men by implication of their simplicity as being all-alike and predictable. Nov 15, 2015 at 1:02

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