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I'm writing a technical text about the information in a report, dealing with telecommunication procedures.

I want to highlight that the information field I'm referring to doesn't provide any information about some details, which more specifically are some type of errors. To do so I'm using a negative form.

I'm unsure if I should say:

  1. "It seems the field doesn’t provide details neither on "Operation Errors" nor on "Reject causes", the report lists in its output."

or

  1. "It seems the field doesn’t provide details neither about "Operation Errors" nor about "Reject causes", the report lists in its output."

Thank you in advance

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  • Either one would normally be acceptable. However, "doesn't ... neither" is a double negative. It should be "...doesn't provide details either [on/about] 'Operation Errors' or [on/about] 'Reject causes'..."
    – phenry
    Feb 17 '15 at 19:03
  • Thanks @phenry! ;) added mistakes in another part of the sentence ;)
    – Sebastiano
    Feb 17 '15 at 19:10
  • @phenry I think I would be inclined to say: the field provides details neither on..., nor on... . I agree with you that there is little to choose between about and on.
    – WS2
    Feb 17 '15 at 19:22
  • Interesting. But why the negative form is better in "neither ... nor" rather than in the verb? Thank you, S.
    – Sebastiano
    Feb 17 '15 at 19:30
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    @Sebastiano: "neither... nor" is explicit: it specifically denies both alternatives. Other phrasings involving "or" can sometimes tend towards ambiguity.
    – Kevin
    Feb 17 '15 at 19:31
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Neither is decently punctuated; neither is syntactically correct. From the beginning;

"It seems the field doesn't provide details neither. . . " needs a comma;

  • "It seems the field doesn't provide details, neither. . ."

""Reject Errors" nor on "Reject causes" needs definite articles (because these are the specific ones appearing on the report):

  • "..,neither on the "Operation Errors" nor on the "Reject causes"

".."Reject causes", listed on the report" either needs the comma removed or a "which are" added:

  • ""Reject causes" listed on the report"

Or

  • ""Reject causes" that are listed on the report"

Or

  • ""Reject causes", which are listed on the report"

So, putting it all together:

  • "It seems the field doesn't provide details, neither on the "Operation Errors" nor on the "Reject causes" that are listed on the report"

Now, as to your question: "on" works, and so does "about". Also, you might try "for". Or "of". It doesn't really matter.

But what I think you are getting at, rather than "details", is that the report doesn't show any "expansion of" the errors. That is, it shows the short, cryptic error or code, but not the longer associated "explanations of" those errors/codes. Right?

Oh, by the way, "Reject Causes" may be a column heading or field name over which you have no control, but in normal English this would be called "rejection reason(s)", "reason(s) to reject" or a "cause(s) for rejection".

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  • Thank you very much Brian! Yes, you are right regarding the exact meaning of "expansion of the errors"; it doesn't allow any, but I used a report example since it was simpler for me. I'm italian mother tongue, so sometimes I get confused. But more specifically I'm writing about a database, whose values should map to values in a specific report. Some of the report have a mapping in the database column heading, some other do not. SO I want to highline this aspect.
    – Sebastiano
    Feb 18 '15 at 11:32
  • Another note: you have said writing "doesn't ... neither" is a double negative, so the form doesn't provide details either [on/about] 'Operation Errors' or [on/about] 'Reject causes'. must be used. The new form is "It seems the field doesn't provide details, neither on the "Operation Errors" nor on the "Reject causes" that are listed on the report". Is it the comma that "breaks" the double negative (so the affirmative form)?
    – Sebastiano
    Feb 18 '15 at 11:48
  • Yeah, I was hoping the comma would break it. Not sure if it does though. You could leave out comma and change to positive "provides", but I'm not sure that would be any better. I like your negative. You could take out the "neither" and have a "doesn't.....nor", construction, but some grammarians might frown on that. Feb 20 '15 at 8:21
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An alternative to avoid the double-negative:

"It seems the field provides no details regarding "Operation Errors" nor "Reject Causes" listed in the output of the report."

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  • Hello, giada. No; still ungrammatical. Jul 6 '18 at 10:31
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Restricting the answer to the question:

“Details on” or “Details about”?

I would answer:

Neither — “Details of

‘Of’ is used following ‘details’ far more frequently than either ‘on’ or ‘about’, as shown by this Google ngram.

As regards the example sentences, as has already been pointed out, they misuse ‘neither nor’ and one is badly punctuated. I would write:

“It seems that the field provides no details of either the ‘Operation Errors’ or the ‘Reject causes’ (that are) listed in the report.”

Note that this version only has a single negative (‘no’), rather than the three in the original. This avoids the confusion of the negation of one negative by another, and is therefore simpler to read and understand.

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