I'm creating a worksheet for my students, and one of the questions asks them to identify which expression from three given expressions is correct. I am not sure how to pose the question, but I think it should in one of the two following ways:

  • Which of the following type of symbols will give the right answer?

  • Which type of the following symbols will give the right answer?

Which is the grammatically correct one? Maybe there is no difference at all? If so, why? At first, the first way seemed more natural to me, but then it occurred to me that I maybe should have "types of symbols," but I only want them to choose one type (that is, one answer). That's when I though of rearranging the sentence, but in the second case it seems a little bit clumsy to have "type" almost at the beginning, and maybe even there it should be "types."

To give some more context, this is for a math class, and I have given them three choices, all of which are incomplete (in a sense - the choices are missing the actual numbers to give a concrete answer, but they are set up in different ways), and I want them to choose which type of choice is the right choice.

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    Why use "type" at all? If there is only one choice, I'd think just "Which symbol will give the right answer" would be clearest. Can you provide an example question? – VampDuc Apr 16 '15 at 16:21
  • Yeah, I don't understand the question. But the two proposed wordings are both pretty awkward. – Hot Licks Apr 16 '15 at 17:07
  • Here's the question as given (I simplified a bit above). The idea is that they have to choose an answer that will look like the final answer (this is a multi-part question). That is, they are given types of final answers, and they have to select the right type. – Jānis Lazovskis Apr 16 '15 at 17:12
  • Use "form", not "type". – Hot Licks Apr 16 '15 at 17:14
  • (It should be noted that your example is not referring to "symbols".) – Hot Licks Apr 16 '15 at 19:43

First the first :-) should be formulated as:

Which of the following types of symbols will give the right answer?

Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological ... - Page 401 Jerry D. Moore - 2000

Thus we are brought to an important point, namely, that we are distinguishing not only types of symbols, but types of symbolic functions.

The first version should be used to select categories, the second elements.

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Personally, both feel a little awkward and potentially ambiguous. I would suggest:

Of the following symbol types, which will give the right answer?


Of the following types of symbols, which will give the right answer?

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For me, the appropriate is "which type of the following symbols will give the right answer". Yes, maybe both questions are almost the same, but the second one is easy to understand for us as students.

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