"Do you solve engineering problems with use of programming methods, or do you solve engineering problems with the use of programming methods?"

Which one is correct? Are both wrong? If so, what is a grammatical and idiomatic way of expressing this?

  • Just curious. What do you mean by programming methods? Do you mean programming methodologies, such as waterfall model, extreme programming, agile programming, and so on? Or do you mean solving problems by writing programs? – Damkerng T. Dec 2 '13 at 18:09
  • The sentence is actually "..use of iterative numerical analysis methods" , I just wanted to highlight my real problem so I "cropped" the sentence :) – jeff Dec 2 '13 at 19:37
  • Why employ use at all? It's thoroughly redundant. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 2 '13 at 19:40
  • @StoneyB then please show a better way. Or at least choose between these : "solve problems with programming methods" , or "solve problems by programming methods" , or ".. via programming methods" ? – jeff Dec 2 '13 at 19:50
  • The word redundant hints that he suggested "solve problems with programming methods", I think. – Damkerng T. Dec 2 '13 at 19:59

I wouldn't use either - they're both too stilted and use too many words to convey the meaning. When's the last time you heard someone say "with the use of"? I'm not sure I ever have.

A simpler and cleaner grammatical and idiomatic way of saying the same thing that I would use is either "I solved problem X using method Y" or "I solved X by using Y".

  • This is a reasonable recommendation, but because it doesn't answer the question as asked, it's better left as a comment. – Dan Bron Nov 29 '14 at 21:01
  • I've edited it to make it explicit that I'm answering the second part of the question, " If so, what is a grammatical and idiomatic way of expressing this?" – JenSCDC Nov 29 '14 at 21:25
  • Works for me. You might want to add either a little more color and detail about why his constructions feel stilted, or why you prefer yours (or, better, why some external authority or reference or something prefers yours). As it is, it reads as opinion, which will tend to attract downvotes, deserved or not. – Dan Bron Nov 29 '14 at 21:26

I suspect you solve problems (generically) by appropriate use of available tools. When you solve a specific problem, you do so by a particular use of those tools. When your attempt to solve a problem fails, it's because the use you made of those tools wasn't suitable.

Notice that I give examples with no article, with the indefinite article "a" and with the definite article "the"; all three can be apt. The answer depends on whether you have a specific use in mind (the one you did this morning) or a general use; see the "Generic/Non-countable" section of: http://www.icaltefl.com/zero-article-in-english-grammar


I would say

Do you solve engineering problems with the use of programming methods ?

is the correct way to phrase the sentence.

I don't have much knowledge on grammar, so sorry I can't help :(

E: But as far as I understand, most of the time a preposition precedes the noun. But, I too would like someone to explain this clearly :3

  • I, too, think so. I hope we are right :) – jeff Dec 2 '13 at 19:38

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