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This sentence sounds funny to me:

To finish this task it is imperative that all effects are considered in the used step-by-step plan.

While the same sentence, with the last verb in a different position, does not:

To finish this task it is imperative that all effects are considered in the step-by-step plan used.

Are both acceptable? If so, do both "sound" the same?

Additionally, which role does "used" serve when looking at the syntax of this sentence?

  • The sentence sounds funny to me as well. Did you compose it or is it part of a test? – chasly from UK Oct 19 '15 at 9:30
  • You should use "be or should be" after "all effects" because of imperative. Still they don't sound right. If you edit the question with more contexts (when/how they will be used in what situation), it could help. – user140086 Oct 19 '15 at 9:38
  • @chaslyfromUK It is part of an internal document written by a non-native English speaker. – MostlySomeNobody Oct 19 '15 at 12:21
  • @Rathony I think the idea from the document where this was taken from would be something like: user has a task, user chooses one of the many plans available but needs to be mindful of the possible effects. Thus, something like: To finish this task it is important to consider all possible effects resulting from the step-by-step plan chosen. – MostlySomeNobody Oct 19 '15 at 12:25
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Both are perfectly acceptable, both mean perfectly different things, and one of those things is perfectly funny. The predicative used means "being deployed; used by yourself". The attributive used means "second-hand; used and discarded by someone else". Has your plan been used before and thrown away? Did you find it in the gutter? If not, then don't say that, and you'll stop sounding unintentionally comical.

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I think the problem is with time, or tense, in the sentence. It seems the idea is to consider all effects of the plan so the task can be finished, which implies the work is in the future. But, the word "use" is in past tense, implying the either the plan was used before, or the plan was previously selected to be implemented. If the plan was used before, or previously selected, than why would it be imperative to consider all the effects now? Maybe it is better if you leave the word use out, then you have "To finish this task it is imperative that all effects are considered in the step-by-step plan". From this sentence, consider what additional information is communicated by including the word "use". The word developing may be better than used, as in "To finish this task it is imperative that all effects are considered while developing the step-by-step plan", or do you mean ""To finish this task it is imperative that all effects are evaluated in the step-by-step plan selected". Good luck, English is the only foreign language I'm studying.

  • Thank you. The second sentence, "To finish this task it is imperative that all effects are evaluated in the step-by-step plan selected" conveys the meaning that I think was intended. Then, my question becomes, what is the difference between that and "To finish this task it is imperative that all effects are evaluated in the selected step-by-step plan"? Which sounds right/better? – MostlySomeNobody Oct 19 '15 at 12:32
  • To me, the sentence "... are evaluated in the step-by-step plan selected" is referring to a plan that has been selected, but doesn't indicate if the selection will occur in the future or the past. For example, select one of the following plans. To finish the task, it is imperative that all effects... in the step-by-step plan selected. But the second example, "... are evaluated in the selected step-by-step plan" implies that the plan has already been selected. – John Oct 27 '15 at 8:59
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Used is not a good word for this sentence. Instead consider the following options:

  • ... in the selected step-by-step plan.
  • ... in the appropriate step-by-step plan.
  • ... in the given step-by-step plan.

The three are slightly different. The first implies that you chose the plan to use, the second that a specific plan was chosen as the best plan to use, and the third that which plan to use has been selected for you.

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