1. ppk
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    ppk New Member

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    Correct Form Of Comparison

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by ppk, May 28, 2012.

    Hi

    I recently proofread someone’s assignment and highlighted the fact that the second (bolded) sentence in the following excerpt might not be quite right:

    "Female relatives of defined groups of consecutive male minor and severe head injury victims were seen at home 3 months after the injury. The relatives of the severely injured suffered significant psychiatric morbidity compared to the minor head injury relatives."

    To me, that seems to be a funny way of presenting a comparison. I would have written something like:

    "The relatives of the severely injured suffered significantly worse psychiatric morbidity compared to than the minor head injury relatives."

    Is the original version grammatically correct?

    Thanks for any any help.

    Paul
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    your correction wouldn't really take care of that issue, 'significantly worse' should be 'significantly deeper/more serious' imo... the ending is also a problem for me... 'head injury relatives' is very awkward and unclear... should be 'than the relatives of those with head injuries' to make good sense...
     
  3. ppk
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    ppk New Member

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    Thanks mammamaia. I agree with you about the "head injury relative", and , yes, "deeper" does sound better.

    Am I right in thinking the comparison in the original is not correct then? I always thought that comparisons should use words like slower, wider, more xxx, etc.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's not merely a matter of being correct or incorrect. The original sentence isn't necessarily incorrect. It parses correctly, but can be confusing at first because injured is used in its noun sense rather than the more common verb sense. The overall wording seems unnecessarily pretentious.

    Is it correct? Yes. Could it be written better and more clearly? Almost certainly.
     
  5. ppk
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    ppk New Member

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    So, "Group A suffered significant psychiatric morbidity compared to group B" is correct? I'm just trying to get it clear in my head :)

    I thought that when performing a comparison you had to use a comparative (e.g. harder, better, faster, stronger, etc).
     
  6. Jud
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    Jud Member

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    "The relatives of those with severe head injuries suffered a far higher level of psychiatric morbidity when compared to the relatives of those with minor head injuries."
     
  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think "significantly higher" is better than "far higher". Both are vague about how much higher (ok in an abstract as long as details are given in the body), but at least "significant" tells you explicitly that the difference is enough to matter -- it is significant.
     
  8. Jud
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    Jud Member

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    I agree.
     
  9. ppk
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    ppk New Member

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    I like it. I think that using the adviice given so far, I'd change it to:

    "The relatives of those with severe head injuries suffered a significantly higher level of psychiatric morbidity than the relatives of those with minor head injuries."

    Thanks very much for the help.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I rewrote the sentence in question as:

    The relatives of the severely injured suffered high psychiatric morbidity compared to the minor head injury relatives.

    then I think that it would be OK, right? The adjective "high" works in this structure, and therefore the structure _can_ work, with the right adjective. It's a little terse and I don't know that I'd use the structure, but I don't feel that it's actually wrong.

    So I find myself wondering if "significant" has a slightly different nuance in the context of statistical analysis, is in a way an actually different word, one that can be used in this structure.

    If you're in the same class and/or have the same amount of knowledge of statistics as the person whose assignment you're checking, then that theory doesn't work. :) But if not, I do wonder.

    (Hmm. The first dictionary I checked reminds me that, yes, "significant" in the context of statistics refers to something that is unlikely to occur by chance. To me, that means that "significant" and "significantly higher" actually have two different meanings - both meanings may be true at the same time, but they nevertheless seem different. This suggests to me that "significant" might indeed be able to stand alone as an adjective in this sentence without needing to be part of a phrase such as "significantly higher".)

    (And, Googling the phrase "significant compared to" gives me many, many hits. If I were to rephrase the sentence as:

    The psychiatric morbidity suffered by the relatives of the severely injured was significant compared to that suffered by the minor head injury relatives.

    it would match any number of similar sentences on Google.)
     
  11. ppk
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    ppk New Member

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    Thanks ChickenFreak. I didn't think of the statistical use of "significant". I'm still not sure about its use in the original version as the whole sentence seems a bit clumsy and unclear, but now I'm less sure that my/our adapted version has the intended meaning!

    To get to the bottom of it, I guess I need to actually understand how the two groups of female relatives suffered.
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I were using "significant" in that sense I would always either say "statistically significant" or (better) state the confidence: "significant with 95% confidence". "Significant" has non-statistical meanings, so unless you give the reader some reason to believe that the statistical meaning is intended then they shouldn't assume it.
     
  13. P R Crawford
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    P R Crawford Member

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    It's hot in Istanbul as compared to Copenhagen.

    Yes it's correct. The sentence can imply - albeit not in a particularly clear way - that group B did not suffer any morbidity, whereas if you use a construction such as

    it would imply that group B did suffer from morbidity to some degree.

    Whatever the case, the two sentences you've cited are - as everyone here has already pointed out - horribly written... Major rewrite (and rethinking) needed...!
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    prc's explanation is correct... so it's a matter of what is really meant... did the original writer mean the morbidity was greater in one group, or only affected one group?...

    but this still makes no sense, chicken freak... as worded, 'relatives' can only relate to 'injuries' not to 'people' with injuries...
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I assume that "minor head injury relatives" would be read rather like "Group A relatives" and therefore mean the relatives of people in Group A. It would be the relatives of the people in the "minor head injury" group.

    I'm not saying that that's at all graceful and that it doesn't need a rewrite. I'm assuming that it's a sort of shorthand used by people who are used to creating statistical groups based on varying criteria. I'd guess that people who read statistical analyses all day every day might read it without a stumble.
     
  16. PeterC
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    PeterC Active Member

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    I realize you weren't asking about this but to me the first sentence is incredibly confusing.

    Groups don't have relatives, the people in those groups do. Thus I'm confused after the first five words. Also I really don't understand what a "group of consecutive male minor and severe head injury victims" contains. I think the word "consecutive" is throwing me here. I'm also not sure what "defined" is trying say in this context either. Finally, and this is a small issue, simple numbers such as 3 should be spelled out as "three." How about

    "The female relatives of patients in the previously defined groups were interviewed three months after the injuries."
     

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