I have the following sentence:

Fetch the transformations which need to be concatenated.

Is the following adjectival form of which need to be concatenated correct?

Fetch the to be concatenated transformations.

Are there any more (even more succinct?) variants?

  • 2
    Fetch the transformations to be concatenated. It's exactly as succinct as the version with the adjective in front, and it sounds much better. I'll leave the grammatical analysis of this version to other people. – Peter Shor Feb 25 '14 at 14:03
  • The second sounds like patentese, those convoluted noun phrases that are often seen in patent claims. They're practically never seen outside such legal documents, and most English readers would probably consider them confusing. – Barmar Feb 25 '14 at 17:54

The original sentence has a simple, if wordy, structure

Fetch [verb] the transformations [direct object] which need to be concatenated [adjectival clause modifying direct object].

Your suggested alternative is arguably right with a slight modification

Fetch [verb] the to-be-concatenated [adjectival infinitive construction modifying direct object] transformations [direct object]

While the verb phrase to be concatenated can be used without creating a single term by using a hyphen, it would be very clumsy if used as an adjectival phrase before the noun it modifies. When used in that fashion, the verb fetch is followed by another verb form to be that seems to be veering in a different direction. While it makes sense when complete, it is a bit hard to follow. In print, with hyphens, it is a little easier to immediately understand.

However, Peter Shor's suggestion of leading with the noun is much easier to follow.

  • I find this quite interesting, as the question arose, becuase in german (my mother tongue) such a preceding adjectival construction is rather common: "Hole die zu verknüpfenden Transformationen." (the literal translation would be aneinanderzuhängenden) And I was not sure about the english aequivalent. – Matthias Feb 25 '14 at 19:40
  • A preceding adjectival construction is not so uncommon: The soon-to-be president was ... It is the combination of a verb followed by an infinitive (for verbs that don't take infinitives) that is distracting. – bib Feb 25 '14 at 20:04

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