I have the following phrase:

This article analyzes freestyle arm stroke movements.

However I wonder if using motions wouldn't be better:

This article analyzes freestyle arm stroke motions.

Or are both forms interchangeable? The context is competitive swimming.

  • 1
    I like the first one better, but I don't think this is an English question per se. Why? Look up both words in the dictionary; clearly, either word could be used. Whether or not one would be preferred over the other, then, would depend on the field of the journal (physical therapy? competitive swimming? weightlifting?). Since we have no context (no paragraph, no information about the domain, etc.), I can't see how a linguist might recommend one word over the other. That's why I'm voting to close as too localized, but an enhanced question with more info may prevent others from doing the same. – J.R. Jan 8 '13 at 9:01
  • Sorry you are right, it misses the context. In my mind it was clear that competitive swimming was meant but it makes sense that it can be used in other contexts as well. – Christophe Keller Jan 8 '13 at 9:13
  • I agree with J.R.. Analysing movements sounds better. Motions sound more random – mplungjan Jan 8 '13 at 9:14
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    I don't think either motion or movement is absolutely necessary. A "freestyle arm stroke" refers to the motion/movement of the arm in the freestyle technique. – tylerharms Jan 8 '13 at 9:23
  • 1
    So this would lead to "This article analyzes the freestyle arm stroke". Sounds good too :-) – Christophe Keller Jan 8 '13 at 9:43

The terms movement and motion are interchangeable in a linguistic sense as they both mean "a change in position of an object".

When you use the term motion, it tends to sound like newtonian physics

The laws of planetary motion

Newton's first laws of motion

Movement is therefore a better word to describe a motion made by a person if you are talking about competitive swimming.

Of course, as suggested by tylerharms, writing just

This article analyzes freestyle arm strokes.

is perfectly fine too. But it is a bit ambiguous as "analyzing freestyle arm strokes" may not necessary be the same as analyzing the movements of freestyle arm stroke. It can be the history of freestyle arm strokes, or something else about freestyle arm strokes.

  • @ChristopheKeller Welcome :) I'm glad that it helps. – user19341 Jan 8 '13 at 11:01
  • All the instances of freestyle arm stroke in the last paragraph and the example before it are inappropriately given. An article (a or the) is needed in each case, or write plural strokes rather than stroke. (In the question, movements and motions are plurals.) – James Waldby - jwpat7 Jan 8 '13 at 15:55
  • @jwpat7 I always have the tendency to interpret stroke as an universal set of strokes (and the same goes to motion and movement) so I didn't notice the plural forms in the question. My bad... Sorry for any inconvenience caused, I've corrected them in my question. – user19341 Jan 8 '13 at 16:23

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