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Here is an example sentence:

We carry out life cycle assessments on developed products to determine their environmental burden throughout the life cycle of the product.

I am trying to figure out if this would include products still in the development process such as completed prototypes, or if it only refers to products the company is ready to put on the market. Based solely on grammar it would seem that it would not include prototypes, but I get the feeling actual usage is not quite so simple.

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closed as too localized by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, StoneyB, Kris, Mahnax Sep 22 '12 at 0:14

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I'm not getting if you're trying to communicate something, or to understand something. – JAM Sep 18 '12 at 17:51
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You cannot tell just from rules of grammar. The term "developed products" must refer to products that have reached some level of development, but there's no way to tell precisely what level of development the speaker/writer had in mind.

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For a product still in development, you would need to ask the company whether a “life cycle assessment” has been done for that product. One might suppose a company's set of developed products is disjoint from its set of undeveloped products, but the statement “We carry out life cycle assessments on developed products” does not draw a sharp line between developed and undeveloped. With regard to current development, it is likely to mean “We carry out life cycle assessments as part of our product-development process.” But if “life cycle assessment” is a new activity at a company, it might instead mean, “We now carry out life cycle assessments as part of our product-development process, and we are doing life cycle assessments on our existing products as we find the time or receive grants to fund the work.”

The above assumes you are trying to interpret what some company has told you. If instead you are trying to describe the practice of a company, reasonable alternatives are to leave out the word developed if you mean the statement to apply to all products, or replace it with previously-developed if you mean to explicitly exclude products currently in development. Actually, you probably are best off leaving out developed in either case; most people do not regard items under development as products, ie, a product (of a manufacturing company) typically is a previously-developed item now available for sale.

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