Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

"The underlying notions of the problem" or "The problem underlying notions"? Please consider the brevity principle too.

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by J.R., Mehper C. Palavuzlar, RegDwigнt Jan 15 '13 at 10:30

Questions on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange are expected to relate to English language and usage within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3  
Second phrase is not syntactically correct –  mplungjan Jan 15 '13 at 7:31
    
This is a better fit for our sister site for English language learners, which is about to get created. Feel free to commit and post. Thank you. –  RegDwigнt Jan 15 '13 at 10:32
add comment

2 Answers 2

  • "The underlying notions of the problem" is grammatically correct and natural native-speaker English.
  • "The problem underlying notions" is grammatically incorrect; it has to be "The problem's underlying notions".

However, choosing notions is probably less than optimal. Without a larger context, it's not easy to see why you chose that word instead of, e.g., assumptions, axioms, biases, hypotheses, ideas, or postulates.

share|improve this answer
3  
'The roots of the problem' may be more appropriate. –  Edwin Ashworth Jan 15 '13 at 7:58
    
@Edwin: Good suggestion. –  user21497 Jan 15 '13 at 8:02
    
Worse, "the problem underlying notions of..." could be a meaningful part of a sentence, but has a completely different meaning. –  Jon Hanna Jan 15 '13 at 10:29
    
You probably could say, "The problem-underlying notions included X, Y, and Z", but I doubt anyone would. (It reads unnaturally, and to speak it you have to run "problem" and "underlying" together awkwardly, then pause after them, to make it clear what you mean.) –  David Schwartz Jan 15 '13 at 10:31
add comment

In the second case, you have the risk of implying "The problem underlying the notions", which obviously you do not mean. Anyway it is ungrammatical.

As for the first option "The underlying notions of the problem", it is grammatical and conveys the meaning correctly. However, a better phrasing might be:

The notions underlying the problem

which is much more direct and places the words in their natural order.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.