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I am writing a paper and I want to criticize some other related work. I want to say that the problem of their work is that they don't support advanced composition rules. So which one is a better phrasing and why:

The shortcoming of their approach is that they only support simple composition rules.


The shortcoming of their approach is the lack of support of advanced composition rules.

I will be grateful if you suggest a better phrasing.

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2 Answers

The shortcoming of their approach is its lack of support for|of advanced composition rules.

sounds better to me (with the caveat that I have no idea what advanced composition rules are in this (unknown) context, and would be better able to respond if I did), but there's no one right answer to a question of this sort.

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Why did you change the to its? I would imagine its here sounds like duplication, because we already mentioned their approach so the lack would by default be referring to their support. –  Promather Jan 17 '11 at 17:57
I switched it simply because I thought it sounded better. It also clarifies whose lack it is: their approach's lack, or their own lack. (I trust I've chosen correctly?) –  msh210 Jan 17 '11 at 19:07
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Without more context it's hard to say, but I'd try something like the following:

Their approach fails to support advanced composition rules.

We've done three things here:

  1. We've pulled the most important part out, so that it's now the main clause. In both of the original examples, the important part is buried in a subordinate clause or a prepositional phrase.

  2. We've strengthened that clause by turning a wimpy negative ("lack of support"/"support only") into a positive statement ("fails to support"). We're saying what it does do. "J'accuse!"

  3. We've dropped the "shortcoming" bit entirely. I'm taking a liberty here, but at this point, it seems redundant. We've already characterized it as a failure.

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