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I don't know the exact terms used to describe this situation but I'm wondering whether there is a clearly "correct" way of phrasing this sentence. I know both versions are grammatically correct, but is one obviously better or preferred than the other and, if so, why? My assumption is that "replacement of the Compliance Review Tracker (CRT) system" is the subject, and therefore it should come first (as in B). But is this totally a stylistic choice and not necessarily "better" than choice A? Something about A sounds weak but I'm not sure what the grammatical rule is here.

A) A critical eBusiness project for MRC is the replacement of the agency's legacy Compliance Review Tracker (CRT) system, currently built in Visual Basic.

B) Replacement of the legacy Compliance Review Tracker (CRT) system, currently built in Visual Basic, is a critical eBusiness project for MRC.

  • A is more passive phrasing than B. I think that's what you're catching on. But I'm not a grammarian so I can't give you much more that that. If you wanted to write it a bit more actively, you might start with "MRC's critical eBusiness project is replacing its legacy Compliance Review Tracker (CRG) system, which was built in Visual Basic." Also, as a programmer, saying something is "currently built in" a language sounds weird. Finished programs really don't have a "current" state beyond maintenance, and that will always be performed in the language it was originally built with. – VampDuc Nov 23 '15 at 20:28
  • It really depends on the context; namely, the subject of the discussion in general. If the discussion is about what projects need to be done, and how they should be prioritized, then (A) is better. If the discussion is about a system which the CRT system is part of, then (B) is better. – Peter Shor Feb 24 '16 at 19:44
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The verb "is" establishes an "equality" of sorts between its subject and object. In both cases the subject comes first, it's just that there are different subjects in the two cases.

Which version is "best" depends on what you want to emphasize. If it's most important to simply note that there is a critical project, the first is best. If you want to instead emphasize that the review tracker replacement is important because it's been deemed "critical" then the second is best.

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[EDITED 2-24-2016 to completely rewrite my answer of 11-24-2015]

My assumption is that "replacement of the Compliance Review Tracker (CRT) system" is the subject, and therefore it should come first (as in B). But is this totally a stylistic choice and not necessarily "better" than choice A? Something about A sounds weak but I'm not sure what the grammatical rule is here.

I agree with you that the choice is stylistic and not a matter of grammar; i.e., there is no "grammatical rule" as to where "replacement of the Compliance Review Tracker (CRT) system" has to appear in these sentences. It comes down to personal preference and emphasis, as Hot Licks pointed out in his excellent answer. Stylistically, my preference is for "A" (which doesn't sound "weak" to me) because the qualifier, "currently built in Visual Basic," comes at the end of the sentence and does not break up the flow, while still indicating it is a factor in considering the proposed change.

Also, it improves the sentence if you replace the word "currently" with "which was," since by definition the legacy system was built sometime in the past, even though it is currently still in use.

Thus, I would suggest you try the following:

A critical eBusiness project for MRC is the replacement of the agency's legacy Compliance Review Tracker (CRT) system, which was built in Visual Basic.

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