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Can I say "A test comprises an equal number of items concerned with either prospective or retrospective, long-term or short-term, and self-cued or environmentally-cued memory subscales"?

  • Is this the same: "A test comprises an equal number of items concerned with either prospective or retrospective memory subscales. The memory subscales can be long- or short- term, and self- or environmentally- cued"? – SlowLearner Oct 5 '17 at 23:04
  • BTW... there seems to be an 'and' missing from the title of your question - it's confusing – SlowLearner Oct 5 '17 at 23:07
  • Thank you for saying! Yes it is the same. The thing that I want to point out is that each subscale is made up of half prospective and half retrospective memory items, half long- and half short- term memory items, and half self- and half environmentally- cued memory items. – S. Rosa Oct 5 '17 at 23:15
  • You might be better off dropping either and changing all 3 instances of or to and. Otherwise there's some tension between equal number (i.e. all categories are represented) and the exclusive or interpretation (i.e. pick one but not both) suggested by the word either. – Lawrence Oct 5 '17 at 23:45
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Judging from the context of options presented, I think you could slightly improve the clarity of what is meant in this sentence by inserting additional copies of "either":

A test comprises an equal number of items concerned with either prospective or retrospective, either long-term or short-term, and either self-cued or environmentally-cued memory subscales.

But I think a much better option than trying to load more into that sentence is to lay out the options in several sentences or a bullet list. For example, if I understand correctly:

A test comprises items concerned with various characteristics of memory subscales. These items should be equally split across:

  • prospective and retrospective
  • long-term and short-term
  • self-cued and environmentally-cued
  • +1 bullet points are a good idea but the example makes me think tests are split across 3 groups instead of drawing from each of the 3 groups. – SlowLearner Oct 6 '17 at 4:25
  • Entirely possible, but that is really part of the point I am making (perhaps not clearly enough) that the meaning is being lost by trying to crunch this concept into one sentence. – Joffan Oct 6 '17 at 4:32
  • Yes. Too big for 1 sentence... – SlowLearner Oct 6 '17 at 4:35
  • I was agreeing, have now lent formal support ;) – SlowLearner Oct 6 '17 at 5:49
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I think your statement is technically wrong. It can be written generally like this:

A Test comprises (something) with Either B1 or B2, C1 or C2 and D1 or D2

Which I interpret to mean that the test comprises something with:

  • options from B and D, OR
  • options from C and D

But not with options from B, C and D which is what I think you mean.

It might be more clear if you could say:

A test comprises (something) with one of each of the following options/parameters: (B1 or B2), (C1 or C2) and (D1 or D2).

OR

A test comprises (something) with one of each of the following options/parameters:

  • B1 or B2
  • C1 or C2
  • D1 or D2

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