Is this a grammatically correct sentence?

"Programming language has a four methods. Each method has features in which context to use it."

closed as off topic by RegDwigнt Dec 9 '11 at 20:13

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  • Could you give us some context, please? It's hard to tell what you're trying to say. Are you saying 'Each method had an appropriate context' – Pureferret Dec 9 '11 at 9:17
  • @Pureferret "Programming language has a four methods.Each method has features in which context to use it." – Oyeme Dec 9 '11 at 9:23
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    @Oyeme: You can edit the question to include this important point: 'Programming ... methods'. Plus, try to break the sentence 'Each... use it.' into two. Then we can understand what you really mean to say. – Kris Dec 9 '11 at 9:41
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    I disagree. This is spang on topic. Questions like how English questions are formed with modal verbs, and topics like Negative Polarity, are certainly matters that "relate to English language and usage". – John Lawler Dec 10 '11 at 16:34
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    @John: except that there is no question about modal verbs or negative polarity here. There's only an "is this correct?" — which is, and has always been, off-topic as per the FAQ. Of course this question is related to English! Every question asked in English is related to English. But not every question is related to English within the scope defined in the FAQ, which is what the close reason actually says. If you wanted to save the question, you should have edited it into shape. In its current form, it will stay closed and then get deleted. We do not do proofreading here. Simple as that. – RegDwigнt Dec 11 '11 at 3:43

No, it is not grammatical. The antecedent of which seems to be features. If we separate the sentence into two clauses, we get Each method has features. In those features context to use it. That clearly makes no sense.


Something isn't sitting right with me on this sentence.

"Programming language has a four methods. Each method has features in which context to use it."

I'd replace the second sentence (subordinate clause which doesn't make sense when separated) with something slightly different. Perhaps ...has features, each with different contexts in which they are used.

In short, no it's not grammatically correct and needs recasting.


Each method has features in which context to use it.

No, it's not grammatical. Nor does it make any sense. It's a garden path ending in a trackless maze. The way to tell this is to try to unwind all the rules that have been applied to fold the sentence into this shape and see where it comes from.

The first four words cause no problems, but in which context to use it is a horrifically complex and ill-constructed constituent. Technically, it's what's called a Relative Infinitive, and it's been further modified by having a relative pro-adjective which modifying another noun context, which is the object of a preposition in.

And that whole preposition phrase has been Pied-Piped to the beginning of the infinitive, which lacks a subject, so one needs to be determined, in order to understand the sentence, along with an antecedent for which, and a coreferent for it, the direct object of use.

In other words, something like the skeleton of the relative clause might be represented as

... features, such that [someone] uses it in which contexts

The [someone] is just an ordinary indefinite, no problem with an infinitive. However, what's it? -- it's singular, so it can't be features. Then does which refer to features? And what the hell is contexts doing there? You can't say **in features contexts*. You can't even say **in feature contexts* and expect it to mean anything here.

I could speculate about where this all came from, given the sentential context, but this seems clear enough. Or unclear enough.

  • +1 because it really doesn't make any sense. But I've racked my brain trying to figure out exactly what OP might actually be trying to say. My guess (which to be honest is no more than that) is Each method has [particular] features governing the contexts in which it can best be used. As to OP's first sentence, I have no idea whether he means The particular programming language he's writing about, or all such languages. – FumbleFingers Dec 9 '11 at 18:08

Apparently, it is. However, being technically correct is not sufficient. It fails to convey any idea clearly. I can say I get your point, just because I am in the field and can understand the context. (i.e., I know what you mean.) You cannot assume the same with the typical reader.

Overall, it looks incongruous and needs rephrasing.

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    -1: I can't see any way to parse either sentence in such a way that I can see them as grammatical. – FumbleFingers Dec 9 '11 at 13:59
  • @FumbleFingers: Did I say 'it is'? My point was that being grammatically correct is secondary to being semantically effective. Also, the other down voter, Sir! – Kris Dec 10 '11 at 7:35
  • But it isn't grammatically correct. Well, they aren't, since OP wrote two sentences, neither of which is grammatical. And per my comment to @John's answer, I think I can figure out what the second one was supposed to mean, but I can't be sure about the first. – FumbleFingers Dec 10 '11 at 16:48

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