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It was the example of my mother, a Puerto Rican immigrant working diligently to provide for her family, who instilled a work ethic into me that has stood me in good stead.

Q: Please help me understand the red parts. Thanks.
Comments  
work ethic -- the belief that it is important to work hard, do your work well, etc.

to stand somebody in good stead -- to turn out to be useful and valuable. (This is a somewhat formal, old-fashioned phrase, more used in writing than in conversation.)

So, the writer is saying that by working very hard to support her family, his mother set a good example and taught him a valuable lesson that proved useful to him.
Khoffwork ethic -- the belief that it is important to work hard, do your work well, etc.

to stand somebody in good stead -- to turn out to be useful and valuable. (This is a somewhat formal, old-fashioned phrase, more used in writing than in conversation.)

So, the writer is saying that by working very hard to support her family, his mother set a good example and taught him a valuable lesson that proved useful to him.

Hi Khoff,

Thanks a lot for your crystal clear explanation.

BTW, as you said, the red part is old-fashioned. So would you like to modify the original sentence to make it sound more "modern?" Thanks a lot.
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Maybe "old-fashioned" was not quite right -- it actually sounds fine to me in the example given. I just wanted to warn you not to use it in casual conversation -- you would not, for example, say "thanks for loaning me your car -- it really stood me in good stead!"
Hi,

It was the example of my mother, a Puerto Rican immigrant working diligently to provide for her family, who instilled a work ethic into me that has stood me in good stead.

Here is a minor comment on the rest of the sentence.

You need to write it as


It was the example of my mother, a Puerto Rican immigrant working diligently to provide for her family, which instilled a work ethic into me that has stood me in good stead. Here, 'which' refers to 'example'.

Best wishes, Clive

You're right, Clive, I was so busy thinking about "stood me in good stead" I didn't even notice the who/which problem. The sentence coud be either

It was the example of my mother, a Puerto Rican immigrant working diligently to provide for her family, which instilled a work ethic into me that has stood me in good stead. Here, 'which' refers to 'example'.

or

It was my mother, a Puerto Rican immigrant working diligently to provide for her family, who instilled a work ethic into me that has stood me in good stead. Here, 'who' refers to 'my mother'.
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Hi Khoff,

From the point of view of grammar, using who there seems wrong.

"It is something/somebody that/which/who ..." is an emphasis sentence form in which the red part should corresponds to the blue part.

Do you think so?

Osee
KhoffYou're right, Clive, I was so busy thinking about "stood me in good stead" I didn't even notice the who/which problem. The sentence coud be either

It was the example of my mother, a Puerto Rican immigrant working diligently to provide for her family, which instilled a work ethic into me that has stood me in good stead. Here, 'which' refers to 'example'.

or

It was my mother, a Puerto Rican immigrant working diligently to provide for her family, who instilled a work ethic into me that has stood me in good stead. Here, 'who' refers to 'my mother'.
Hi, Osee -- Clive was right, in the original sentence which begins "It was the example of my mother, . . ." you need "which." In this sentence it is the example ...which instilled...

I was just pointing out that in a slightly different sentence, without the words "the example of," you could use "who." You could have a sentence that said "It was my mother....who instilled..." In this case, "who" would be appropriate because it refers to "mother," rather than to "the example of my mother."
Yes, you are right. I was careless reading your previous input. Sorry about that.
KhoffHi, Osee -- Clive was right, in the original sentence which begins "It was the example of my mother, . . ." you need "which." In this sentence it is the example ...which instilled...

I was just pointing out that in a slightly different sentence, without the words "the example of," you could use "who." You could have a sentence that said "It was my mother....who instilled..." In this case, "who" would be appropriate because it refers to "mother," rather than to "the example of my mother."

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