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Let me give you some context first:

  • Germans. We may have similar words with different meanings and use words just because they have a similar spelling.
  • software company, writing software for hardware devices which are connected to the PC. Not the usual office equipment, but industrial devices.

In our internal but also external documentation I often find sentences like

This feature is part of the corresponding software.
To be able to use feature XYZ, you need the corresponding device.

In almost any case I found so far, corresponding could be replaced appropriate and I wondered why I am struggling with the term.

One thing that came into my mind is the meaning of to correspond. A corresponding person would be someone who writes letters, right? The only reason that this meaning does not apply here is the fact that neither software nor device write letters. Then I conclude that the meaning has to be something else, e.g. appropriate. IMHO, appropriate makes me think less.

Is this only my lack of knowing the English language which makes me feel unhappy with that word in that context or would you also recommend replacing the word? Why? What is the slight difference and perhaps advantage of appropriate over corresponding here?

  • Can you give an example sentence with according? Because those two can't be used alternatively. – Neeku Jul 10 '14 at 8:56
  • @Neeku: OMG, what a mistake - see the updated version which asks for appropriate. – Thomas Weller Jul 10 '14 at 9:10
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    I would suggest looking up the word "correspond" in a dictionary to start with. It has another meaning which has nothing to do with letter-writing. "Corresponding" is a more specific relationship than "appropriateness", and so could be a better choice in your cases. – Rupe Jul 10 '14 at 10:01
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    AS @Rupe says. Appropriate would work with the second, but not the first. But you could say *This feature requires the appropriate software (there might be several that would work). Corresponding, in these cases means matching; appropriate means suitable. – bib Jul 10 '14 at 12:12
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    What @bib says is also reflected in the fact that if changing to "appropriate" in the second you'd also probably want to change the article. It's "... the corresponding device" but could be "... an appropriate device" – Rupe Jul 10 '14 at 12:24
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As @Rupe said, it sounds like you have fixated on one meaning of the word corresponding. When in most cases today the word corresponds denotes a relationship between two things. See MW dictionary for the exact definition of how it's being used in your documentation:

2: directly related to something

In the US you rarely hear correspond used to denote a type of communication, and when I do hear it it's often by the news to talk about their "(foreign, technical, political) correspondent".

Appropriate, however tends to denote 'rightness' or 'correctness', see MW dictionary:

1: right or suited for some purpose or situation

So it can be used to denote a relationship, but in a broader sense then corresponding.

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