Is "To say which method is better, it's a relative thing" correct to express that a method is better depending on the circumstances? Or is there a better way to express that?

The context is:

Q:Which is the more preferred method now (method 1 or method 2)? I know method 2 is newer but is it better?

A:It is a (relative?) thing to say which method is better. Method 1 can fulfill Kevin's request with minimal change to the current script that we're using; in the contrast, method 2 can provide some more functions in addition to fulfilling Kevin's request. So either one can be better, depending on what you want.

As you can see, there is comparison between method 1 and method 2, And either method can be better depending on the need. What word would be proper to replace "relative", which has similar meaning of "relative"?

  • "Depending on what you want" makes it variable, subjective or dependent, not relative.
    – Kris
    Jul 10, 2013 at 12:25
  • I wonder what is unclear about this question. Why the close votes?
    – Kris
    Jul 10, 2013 at 12:26
  • Jealousy, probably. Ignore them. Jul 10, 2013 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


The sentence in the OQ

To say which method is better, it's a relative thing.

is a Left-Dislocation of the sentence

It's a relative thing to say which method is better.

which itself comes from Extraposition of the sentence

To say which method is better is a relative thing.

Now, since the communicational purpose of extraposition of an infinitive subject is to move heavy NPs to the end of the sentence, where they can be processed more easily in a Right-Branching language like English, and the purpose of left dislocation is to move the important part of the sentence to the beginning, using both of them together does nothing useful except add parasitic structure and a dummy it subject to the original.

So the structure is a wash, right away. As for the predicate be a relative thing, this is overage from be relative, in the sense of relative that means 'varying widely in context (and consequently difficult to judge)'.

If some thing is relative, then it is a relative thing, right? Again, piling on more words to make it come out better; not always an optimum solution.

So, instead of asking whether one particular sentence out of literally trillions is "correct", you might better ask where this sentence came from, what it's sposta mean, and to whom; and why there might be a problem with it -- and possibly with some others like it, because you can't ask individual questions about trillions of sentences.


I think the clearest way to put it is to say "Which method is better depends on your (priorities/preferences/criteria)." Or, "Depending on your (priorities/preferences/criteria), you could argue that either method is superior."

Kris's comment gives a nice list of alternatives here, but the clearest in my opinion is to say that the choice "depends" on something, and then explain what it depends on.

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