How is this sentence:

Process a scan if the last scan processed is older than the update time (in seconds).

different in meaning from this sentence?

Process a scan if the last processed scan is older than the update time (in seconds).

  • Not sure what "in seconds" means there, BTW. It must be at least a full second older? Or that the update time is expressed in seconds, e.g. seconds after midnight?
    – TRomano
    Dec 14 '15 at 14:07
  • This sentence is the description of a parameter. temporalUpdate (float, default: -1.0) Process a scan if the last scan processed is older than the update time (in seconds). Dec 14 '15 at 14:18
  • @TimRomano (in seconds) typically indicates an integer value per second, so yes, it means one second resolution
    – Jon Story
    Dec 14 '15 at 17:50
  • @Jon Story: Odd, then, that they've chosen a float rather than an integer datatype. From a grammatical perspective, rather than a programming one, "in seconds" isn't clearly integrated into that sentence.
    – TRomano
    Dec 14 '15 at 18:15
  • 1
    True, but from a programming sense it's very standard to specify units after the descriptor
    – Jon Story
    Dec 14 '15 at 18:27

Essentially there's not much difference: in both sentences, the relevant three words refer to the last to be processed of all the scans you've processed.

But if you want to go into minor details and nuances, there's a slight difference in which part is 'stressed':

  • "the last scan processed" means the last scan that you processed (focus is on the processing of the scans)
  • "the last processed scan" means the last of all the processed scans (focus is on the scans, which have been processed).
  • Actually in this specific context there doesn't appear to be an ambiguity, and I'd argue that it's the context that creates or clarifies the ambiguity anyway
    – Jon Story
    Dec 14 '15 at 17:49
  • @JonStory Indeed, there's no ambiguity as the meaning is basically the same. But since the OP asked about the difference, I thought I'd go into the very minor nuances between the two wordings. Dec 14 '15 at 17:52
  • I'm not disagreeing that there could be ambiguity, if 'last scan' wasn't followed by 'processed' - I just think it needs to be clarified that this particular example doesn't contain that ambiguity. You state there is a difference, rather than 'there isn't in this instance, although there could be with this change'
    – Jon Story
    Dec 14 '15 at 17:54
  • @JonStory I edited to make it a bit clearer what I'm saying - any better now? Dec 14 '15 at 17:57
  • Somewhat clearer yes, although I still think it bears explicitly stating that there's absolutely no difference when presented as those two specific sentences
    – Jon Story
    Dec 14 '15 at 18:02

There is no difference.

The phrase 'last scan' as opposed to 'last processed scan' could have some ambiguity, because the former could refer to the last of all the scans, not just the most recent.

However in this specific context, with the addition of the word 'processed' and the rest of the sentence, they mean the exact same thing, and can only mean the exact same thing.


In both cases, the meaning is 'the scan that was last to be processed'. English allows the past participle to be used as an adjective, and while our adjectives usually precede the noun, they don't always have to.


Both sentences are referring to the same meaning. In one they said "processed scan" and in the other "scan processed".

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