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 am always confused by the difference between the use of for and of in cases like these:

  1. Principal component analysis of microarray data.
  2. Principal component analysis for microarray data.

Which of these is correct? Is it OK to use both? If yes, when should I use 1. and 2., respectively?

share|improve this question
It would help if you provided complete sentences as examples. It would also help if you simplified the jargon. – John Satta Dec 24 '10 at 4:23
@John Satta. Sorry, I thought the jargon would not matter. – suncoolsu Dec 24 '10 at 8:19
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Both examples are correct usage, but the meanings are different and very much dependent on the context.

If the microarray data is being analyzed, then "of" is used to indicate relation.

To better understand the results, we must perform a principal component analysis of the microarray data.

If the microarray data is the outcome of the analysis, then "for" is used to indicate attempting to obtain, gain, or acquire.

We suspected the flux capacitor might contain microarray data, so we decided to perform a principal component analysis (of the flux capacitor to search) for it.

Where "it" is the microarray data.

Another pair of simpler examples:

If we seek the maguffin, then we might

search his luggage for the maguffin

If we suspect kryptonite is hidden within the maguffin, then we might

Perform a search of the maguffin seeking kryptonite

share|improve this answer
Great! That's exactly what I was looking for. Thank you very much. – suncoolsu Dec 24 '10 at 8:22
Just to clarify: microarray data is a special kind of data and principal component analysis is a method of analyzing it. I hope I used it correctly :-). – suncoolsu Dec 24 '10 at 8:26
@suncoolsu - You're welcome. Then in your case, analysis of data is the best usage – John Satta Dec 24 '10 at 13:39

protected by Community Feb 18 '15 at 17:46

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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