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I am wondering if it is correct to say:

This is a transitioning phase.

Personally, I would say

This is a transitional phase.

but my friend insists that the above is just as correct as my version.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

They are both correct; however, the first is somewhat ambiguous (in that it could mean the phase is transitioning). Hence it is much less common:

Since ambiguity should be guarded against whenever possible, my advice to you is: go on saying "transitional phase"!

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Can you add a link to the NGram search results even if you include the image? It helps if I want to toy around with it a bit. :) – MrHen Jul 13 '11 at 23:01

Grammatically, there's no problem -- any participle can be legally used as an adjective.

Is it as effective, insofar as language use? I'd say not, because it's ambiguous -- what is "transitioning": items/processes inside the phase, or is the phase itself moving to something else (as in a workflow)?

If there's no chance it will be misunderstood, given its context, then fair enough -- but it never hurts to take no chances, so tell him it's safer to use "transitional".

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They probably convey similar meanings. That suggests to me that transitioning is unnecessary, as is the use of transition as a verb; but, apart from being an annoying neologism, it is difficult to argue transitioning phase is incorrect.

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