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Take these two sentences -

1) How to express the willingness to learn things necessary on the job?

2) How to express the willingness to learn necessary things on the job?

Are they grammatically correct? and do they convey the same meaning?

How about:

3) I usually list necessary things before I go to the supermarket.

4) I usually list things necessary before I go to the supermarket.

Grammatically correct? same meaning?

Another one:

5) 10 Necessary Things to Learn Before Traveling to a Foreign Country

6) 10 things necessary to Learn Before Traveling to a Foreign Country

  • This might be an interesting question. But first you need to give the promised context. That means: 1) complete sentences; 2) some idea of what you have been able to find out by carrying out some sort of research yourself. – Tuffy May 22 '18 at 6:45
  • I've replaced the 'meaning-in-context' tag with 'sentence-meaning', which is what I'm after. (1) and (2) is based on something appearing on this very forum: english.stackexchange.com/questions/167653/…. (3) and (4) is something I would say to a friend. for (5) and (6) - see link attached to (5) – wordplay May 22 '18 at 9:00
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The below is based on experience as a native speaker. I have no idea how to research it. I probably use wrong terminology. I'm more than happy to remove my answer if someone provides a better referenced answer.


In any of your phrases with "necessary things" necessary is an adjective modifying things. All of your examples of this are valid usages.


In a phrase with "things necessary for xyz" there is an ellipsis; what it means is "things that are necessary for xyz". When speaking there would be a pause between "things" and "necessary".

Further, necessary for xyz is essentially an adjective describing things. Note that necessary on its own is not the adjective here, the whole necessary for xyz is the adjective.


Let's then have a look at what your sentences mean:

1) How to express the willingness to learn things necessary on the job?

This sentence is about things that are "necessary on the job", and is asking about learning them. It makes grammatical sense, but it may not be what you intended.

2) How to express the willingness to learn necessary things on the job?

This sentence is about things that are "necessary", and is asking about learning them on the job.

3) I usually list necessary things before I go to the supermarket.

This sentence is about things that are necessary, and listing them before going to the supermarket. It makes grammatical sense, but it would sound more idiomatic if you replaced "necessary things" with "the necessities".

4) I usually list things necessary before I go to the supermarket.

This sentence is about things that are "necessary before going to the supermarket", and listing them. Although still grammatical, this makes little logical sense. What is necessary before going to the supermarket? Probably writing a shopping list. So this sentence says "I write a list, and on that list is only one item, which is make a shopping list". It doesn't make much sense.

5) 10 Necessary Things to Learn Before Traveling to a Foreign Country

This sentence is about things that are necessary, and that you should learn before travelling to a foreign country. This sentence makes sense.

6) 10 things necessary to Learn Before Traveling to a Foreign Country

This sentence is about things that are "necessary to learn before travelling to a foreign country". This sentence makes sense.

  • Re. (3). Agreed. 'the necessities' sounds much nicer. BTW, do we need 'the'. Can I not just say 'I usually list necessities before....'. Also, isn't the second 'I' superfluous. Could we simply say 'I usually list necessities before going to the supermarket' (4) - You are correct. it's as if I'm referring to making a list of things needed to go on the shopping trip. e.g. pair of boots, a map, a sweater. Although, I very much doubt anyone makes such a list. Perhaps this might work: I usually list necessary things before I go camping. – wordplay May 22 '18 at 12:09
  • @wordplay - I agree with everything in your comment. – AndyT May 22 '18 at 13:49

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