English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I ran into an interesting grammatical question while coding yesterday. We were doing a change to some in-app text, on a page where checks that are no longer valid are registered.

The original text read "Stopped/Voided Checks", because the reason for checks to be stopped is because they have been voided, so the two words are connected in meaning (some checks that are stopped are stopped for different reasons, but they both fall under the same category for our app's purposes)

As part of the change, we also have to include forged checks on this page, so my boss instructed me to change the text to "Stopped/Voided, Forged Checks".

However, I contended that "Stopped/Voided and Forged Checks" seems more gramatically correct.

It also occurs to me that "Stopped/Voided Forged Checks" could be used, or "Stopped/Voided, and Forged Checks".

Which of these instances are most proper? I'm in favor of "Stopped/Voided and Forged Checks" personally, because it reflects the inclusion of both Stopped/Voided AND Forged checks, but I am not certain that this is correct.

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Carlo_R., p.s.w.g, Kristina Lopez, TrevorD, MετάEd Aug 24 '13 at 5:10

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Perhaps I misunderstand, but if Stopped and Voided imply the same thing, why not just use one or the other? (i.e. 'Stopped and Forged Checks', or 'Voided and Forged Checks') – Hannele Aug 23 '13 at 15:06
It's for the sake of clarity. Originally it DID just say "Stopped Checks" (Before we also had to include Forged Checks), but there was some confusion over whether Voided Checks should be included, thus the change. Admittedly, we could also change it to "Stopped, Voided and Forged Checks", but at the time I didn't bring it up with my boss. – Zibbobz Aug 23 '13 at 15:13
If Stopped/Voided is OK because they fall under the same category in your software, what's wrong with Stopped/Voided/Forged? Why complicate things when your software doesn't care? – John Lawler Aug 23 '13 at 15:23
Because while we don't have to record separate instances of Stopped or Voided checks, we DO have to record instances of Forgeries separate from the other two. User requirements, sadly, do not always make for good grammar. – Zibbobz Aug 23 '13 at 15:25
Stopped (Voided/ Forged/ Other) if stopped is a superset of all other cases. Else Stopped (Voided/ Other)/ Forged. One needs to be very careful here: check the set associations. – Kris Aug 26 '13 at 7:09
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It isn't a complete sentence to begin with so I wouldn't worry too much about the rules of grammar and go with clarity. If stopped and voided checks are largely the same thing, the usage of "stopped/voided" denoting interchangeability in the terms seems appropriate. As forged checks appear to be a different category, adding in that category with a conjunction, thereby arriving at your suggestion of Stopped/Voided and Forged Checks, seems fine.

If stopped and voided checks are even slightly different things, I would suggest Stopped, Voided, and Forged Checks would be the way to go.

share|improve this answer
"Stopped/Voided" or even "Stopped, Voided"? the two are not alternatives. The OP has clarified that well enough. – Kris Aug 26 '13 at 7:07
@Kris The OP has definitely not clarified that well enough. – mikeY Aug 26 '13 at 15:20
"... so the two words are connected in meaning (some checks that are stopped are stopped for different reasons, but they both fall under the same category for our app's purposes)" Need more? :) – Kris Aug 27 '13 at 5:54
@kris- Some checks that are stopped are voided. Some that are stopped are stopped for different reasons. My suggestion was simply that if there is a difference between stopped and voided, as it seems there is, OP should consider treating the categories as a simple comma separated list for the new schema, regardless of how they are treated in the old schema. – mikeY Aug 27 '13 at 15:39

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