apply in reality or apply to reality?

cool-jupiter

Senior Member
Japanese
Hi, forum veterans. Could you do me favor and help me with the following? I came across the following sample sentence in my work book that said:

Why don't you try to demonstrate the theory's validity by applying it to reality?

Would it be awkward if I said, "Why don't you try to demonstrate the theory's validity by applying it in reality?"? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    Why don't you try to demonstrate the theory's validity by applying it to reality?

    I think the sentence is misleading. What is "reality"? It is the whole universe! If the theory is about cats using litter boxes, we cannot apply that theory to the whole universe!

    What the sentence really means is "Why don't you test the theory's validity by applying it (the theory) to a real situation." A real cat, in a real house, with a real litter box.

    So "reality" really means "a real situation". That is not correct English. Not even close. I think the correct meaning is what you intended with your suggested "try it in reality". In my opinion, your sentence expresses the correct meaning better than the original.
     

    cool-jupiter

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    dojibear - Thank you so much for your philosophical explanation. It seems that there are times when a non-native speaker' hunch is correct.

    Rival - Greetings. :thumbsup:
     
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