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General Writing and Grammar Help/Help needed with a sentence


I recently had a debate with a friend of mine about this sentence:

"An allegedly North Korean psychologist studying x is researching y."

I assumed this was not correct and that the correct options would either be:

"An alleged North Korean psychologist studying x is researching y."
"Allegedly North Korean psychologist, WHO is studying x is researching y."

I would just like to know whether the first version(the top one) is correct and if not, why? Also what would the most/only correct version be? With the focus being on the first 5 words of the sentence.
Any help and information would be truly appreciated.


Hi, Tim,

Without knowing more about the intention behind the use of the word "alleged(ly)," which this sentence in any of the versions does not make clear, I can't give a definitive answer.

Here are the options:

If the nationality of the psychologist is not factually known but merely presumed, the sentence should be written: "A psychologist [who is] allegedly from North Korean...."

If the credentials of the psychologist are in question, then it should state: "An alleged psychologist from North Korea...."

If the research or study itself is what is in dispute, then it should state: "A North Korean psychologist is allegedly researching x..."  or "is allegedly studying y..."

I hope that helps. Basically, "alleged" is an adjective and must modify a noun or pronoun; "allegedly" is an adverb and must modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb.

Please rank my answer. Best to you.

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Sally Ember, Ed.D.


I can answer any grammar, writing, reading, editing and proofreading questions for nonfiction, fiction, literary criticism. I can also help in most content areas except for hard science and narrow areas of history. Specialize in E.S.L. , those with learning disabilities and processing problems. Clarity, fun, and simple answers as well as assisting with improving to excellence.


Many years teaching K - 12 and college-level writing. Degrees in education through doctorate. Published nonfiction and fiction writer.

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B.A., Elementary Ed., social science/language arts concentrations Experience teaching high school and college Master's and doctorate in education Writing instructor at secondary and post-secondary levels, including GRE and SAT preparation high scores on PSAT, SAT, GRE and National Teaching Exams

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National Merit Scholar, 1971 Phi Beta Kappa Summa Cum Laude, B.A.

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