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In Hebrew, it is common to say "מחשב PC". The word "מחשב" means "computer", of any kind, and PC, well, a PC - personal computer.

While translating a technical document today I saw this being used, and was about to translate it to "PC computer", when I realized it actually reads as "Personal computer computer", so I stopped.

Problem is, if I translate it to just "PC" or just "Computer", it doesn't feel correct to me, as not fully sticking to the original meaning in the document. Of course my feeling might be wrong, as far as English is concerned, and that is why I'm asking here.

So, can I say "PC computer", or is it plain wrong?

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  • It is not idiomatic. You should use either "PC" or "personal computer." However, personal computer is often taken to mean a Microsoft Windows machine of some sort, so you may feel that it is better just to use "computer", providing that the context is clear.
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 9:39
  • Thanks @Mick, why not as answer? (And in this case it's indeed Microsoft Windows computer, if it matters.) Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 9:40
  • I like to provide supporting evidence when I post an answer. However, this is just from memory.
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 9:42
  • @Mick I see. Well, take your time, and thanks again! :) Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 9:46
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    Some prescriptivists say "PC computer" is bad. But people keep on saying it. Just like PIN number and many more. If you want to say it, go ahead!
    – GEdgar
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 12:36

2 Answers 2

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You should either use "PC" or "personal computer". You can replace "computer" with "PC" to speak about a particular kind of computer:

  • Desktop PC

  • Pocket PC

  • Laptop PC

  • Home Theater PC

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As @Mick commented, if you write PC computer, it could be (wrongly) interpreted as excluding Macintosh made by Apple. In order to include all the computers, you can write

All PCs / PC and Mac computers.

According to the following Wikipedia article,

"PC" is sometimes used in a different sense, referring to a personal computer with an Intel x86-compatible processor...

"PC" is used in contrast with "Mac", an Apple Macintosh computer.

This sense of the word is used in the Get a Mac advertisement campaign that ran between 2006 and 2009, as well as its rival, I'm a PC campaign, that appeared in 2008. Since Apple's transition to Intel processors starting 2005, all Macintosh computers are now PCs.

[Source: Wikipedia article on Personal computer / Terminology]

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  • Thanks. Suppose it's clear in the context that only PC with Windows is to be used, does it mean I can use "PC computer"? Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 10:24
  • @ShadowWizard Why don't you use just PCs (personal computers) with Windows? It reads far more clear than PC computer and may not be misleading.
    – user140086
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 10:26
  • Well, the context is a software that works only on Windows, this is clear from other parts of the document. So adding "with Windows" is not needed in this case. Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 10:39
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    @ShadowWizard I see. I think the other answer answers your question.
    – user140086
    Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 10:43
  • Windows Computer can't be abbreviated as WC, since that already means something else. Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 1:52

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