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Reserved SQL words are written in uppercase.
Reserved SQL words are written in uppercase letters.

Would the first sentence be understood? Would the second sentence be preferable, or more correct?

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"Would the first sentence understood?" Everyone knows what you mean, but that sentence cries out for a verb. – moioci Aug 24 '10 at 2:19
@moioci: Fixed. – kiamlaluno Aug 24 '10 at 2:36
I also noticed that I wrote upper case, instead of uppercase. – kiamlaluno Aug 24 '10 at 2:49
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I think both of these would be equally understandable and well-formed, although in the context of SQL and programming, I think the idea of uppercase and lowercase is common enough that the first example would be slightly preferred. But nobody would ever find it strange to see your second example.

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I'd disagree. In programming, I never see the term "uppercase letters "; it's a given that they are letters! – Humphrey Bogart Aug 24 '10 at 10:33
Random examples of the phrase "uppercase letters" being used when talking about programming: google.com/… – Kosmonaut Aug 24 '10 at 13:58

I think both sentences say the same thing, the former with fewer words, and so I'd prefer that.

Also, most books that I've read tend to state the language first, such as "C++ reserved words" or "Reserved words in SQL". "Reserved SQL words" sounds awkward to me, although I don't know why.

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Wait a minute. Isn't it "upper case" when used as a noun and "uppercase" when used as an adjective? Or am I incorrect in my hypercorrectness?

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The dictionary says it is one word as a noun and adjective: mw1.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/…. – Kosmonaut Sep 26 '10 at 21:04
@Kos Hmm, thanks. I guess I could have looked it up myself, eh? Didn't mean to be lazy. So then is "upper case" incorrect? – ErikE Sep 26 '10 at 23:58
I imagine it is a valid variant, although I don't (anecdotally) see it much. – Kosmonaut Sep 27 '10 at 0:34

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