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Which preposition is correct?

This video shows the effect of freezing on water.
This video shows the effect of freezing of water.

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@JasperLoy "effect ... on", but "freezing ... of", that should be clear to the discerning reader. –  Kris Dec 9 '12 at 5:37
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This video shows the effect of freezing on water

refers to how freezing something has an effect on water.

This video shows the effect of freezing of water

refers to the effect the freezing of water has on something.

They mean different things but could refer to the same thing; for example, how freezing water makes it expand from four to zero degrees.

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Although it might be slightly contrived, you could also say salt has an effect on freezing of water (I can't even think of a highly contrived way to make on freezing on water sound credible!). But OP isn't asking about about different possible meanings - he just asks about which one is "correct" for the most obvious meaning. Although to be honest, I don't particularly agree the semantic distinction you make here anyway. –  FumbleFingers Dec 8 '12 at 23:26
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Freezing in common parlance has an effect only on water, so the sentence sounds odd, somewhat like talking about the effect of cracking on eggs, or the effect of rotting on apples. However it could be saved by using a formulation like:

...the effect of freezing temperatures on water.

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I think both sentences are examples of poor style. As far as I know, there's only one "effect of freezing on water": ice.

The video shows what happens when water freezes.

is a more reasonable way of saying it.

The video shows the effect on water of temperatures below freezing (0 C; 32 F).

is also more reasonable but a bit clumsy.

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Close - but I'd say "This video shows that freezing is the effect on water of reducing it to 0°C (32°F)." –  StoneyB Dec 9 '12 at 2:09
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@StoneyB: Put a little salt or alcohol into the water and reducing it to 0°C (32°F) doesn't do the trick. Supercool the water and it won't freeze at those temps either. Your sentence is scientifically incorrect because it's imprecise and only theoretically true. –  user21497 Dec 9 '12 at 2:24
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In the first instance you're not reducing water to that temperature, you're reducing a solution to that temperature. And I'm just telling you what's in the video -- you'll have to argue with the producers about supercooling. :) –  StoneyB Dec 9 '12 at 2:31
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@StoneyB: Now things are getting complicated. :-( Too many facts spoil the English. –  user21497 Dec 9 '12 at 2:47
    
@Bill: Facts affect your English? Faintheart! –  TimLymington Dec 9 '12 at 22:48
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