I have to do homework in English and my English is a little bit rusty. I have a problem understanding the meaning of the last part of this sentence (bold here to identify it):

Detailed technical requirements and instructions, that falls short of code.

Coding and testing standards fall outside this section, so you can assume the code has to be of high quality. See the milestone example below to understand the level of detail required.

I understood the first part until the comma but I did not get the meaning of the whole sentence: is it asking for "Detailed technical requirements and instructions" with or without code ?

  • I don't either. In the first place, it's not clearly a sentence. In the second place, it's not clearly grammatical either. It looks like it should be which instead of that, or else the that is stressed and the sentence has undergone left-dislocation. Mar 14, 2017 at 15:38
  • 1
    Is this really a whole sentence? Or is it a title/headline within a document? What is the document and the containing paragraph about? It's really hard to guess at meaning without knowing these details. Mar 14, 2017 at 15:47
  • It's very poorly written. Not a sentence. And ambiguous (to the extent that it can be understood at all). I definitely know what "code" is (the two possible definitions in this ambiguous context), and I've read many "detailed technical requirements and instructions", but the "sentence" makes no sense.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 15, 2017 at 11:46

4 Answers 4


I'll consider your quoted text to be part of the requirements for your programming assignment.

Code noun 2 (Computing) mass noun Program instructions. - ODO

One of the tasks of programming is to specify what the program does. This can be done in natural language, whether free-form or structured.

The program's code is the ultimate expression of what the program does. But if you present the code as the specification, the 'specification' is no longer useful when you want to check whether the code is correct. You simply end up checking the code (labeled as 'code') against itself (labeled as 'specification').

Detailed technical requirements and instructions, that falls short of code

I read this instruction as asking for the specifications to be provided in a form that is different from the code you would eventually submit. Unless other constraints are specified or assumed, the "[d]etailed technical requirements and instructions" may be given in natural language or possibly flow charts.

  • It's also vaguely possible that "code" here could refer to, eg, "building codes". (Though the second sentence makes this unlikely.)
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 15, 2017 at 11:48
  • @HotLicks The question does leave this open, but the OP clarified that it relates to "Computer code" in a comment to another answer.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 15, 2017 at 11:50
  • Even in the stated context, there could be some legal code that is of concern. The writing is poor enough that one should not trust the author to have clearly differentiated this if it is the case.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 15, 2017 at 11:53

Are you talking about legal code, or computer code?

In case of the former, it would indicate Detailed technical requirements and instructions which were found to be not complete or extensive enough to meet the requirements (falls short) of (the implied) code, as in fire code, electrical code, or some other voluntary or compulsory codified rules.

  • Computer code. It is asked to write technical requirements and the phrase in the question is the description of what they mean by technical requirements Mar 14, 2017 at 15:43
  • Then I have nothing to offer, sorry.
    – Davo
    Mar 14, 2017 at 15:44

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines fall short of as to fail to reach an amount or standard that was expected or hoped for causing disappointment. This is what I, as a native speaker of British English, understand fall short of to mean.

If I understand the quote correctly it means that you should provide the technical and functional specifications for the proposed solution or application but should not include any code in any computer language. This is not what fall short of means by the Cambridge Dictionary definition. What the question should say is Detailed technical requirements and instructions, short of code. This form does not indicate failure or disappointment, it means that the omission of code is deliberate.

As an aside a good reason for omitting code is that a functional specification can be implemented in more than one development environment, so omitting code retains flexibility.


Just English language specifications really rather than code. e.g. if the age is less than 25, the insurance is X whereas for people above 50, insurance is half of X. Rather than the actual "If then else" statements that are syntactically correct.

Best wishes.

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