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

When I write a document, I am confused when to use test or testing in my document. For example, which one makes a better statement below?

A test engineer vs A testing engineer

software test tool vs software testing tool

share|improve this question
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective:

testing, adj. That tests or puts to the test or proof.

Test, however, is either a noun or a verb. So in your first case, a test engineer uses the noun form, and translates to "one who engineers tests". A testing engineer, however, means "an engineer who is performing a test" or "an engineer who is performing a test on something".

Similarly, a software test tool is "a tool to work with software tests" while a software testing tool is "a tool used to carry out tests on software" or "a tool consisting of software that is designed to perform tests".

share|improve this answer
A test engineer is an engineer who performs tests. A testing engineer would generally be someone who tests one's patience. – snumpy May 19 '11 at 14:33
While I agree with the second point as a synonym to my suggestion, I can't say the same for the first. A mechatronics engineer is an engineer who deals with the concepts of mechatronics. A chemical engineer deals with the concepts of chemistry. Mechatronics is a noun while chemical is an adjective, so there seems to be grammatical inconsistency in the phrase across disciplines. However, testing describes the enactment of the verb test and testing one's patience is an example which is syntactically equivalent to testing one's software. A test engineer creates tests. – arcresu May 19 '11 at 15:02
I was not referring to specific grammatical rules but rather to what a native speaker in the engineering field would understand if you said I work with a test engineer or I work with a testing engineer. Test engineer is a term that refers to an engineer who performs/creates tests. Testing engineer is not. – snumpy May 19 '11 at 15:23
Yeah, fair enough. In common usage you'd just use test engineer to cover both meanings, but I was just trying to explain the grammatical difference. – arcresu May 21 '11 at 2:36
I guess it boils down to the fact test is a noun adjunct (a.k.a. adjectival noun) whereas testing is only ever an adjective, so in answer to the question, and in line with the discussion here, test is the preferred choice in this case. – arcresu May 21 '11 at 4:47

I know that there is

a hardware or software test engineer

who determines how to create a process that would test a product. Also,

software testing tools

is correct, because your term is about “testing a software” (If I got you right).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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