Would you be as kind as to tell me what is the difference (if any) between the following sentences? Are both valid English? If not, please indicate what is the right one. If both are valid, which is more suitable for a formal setting (such as work email or school paper)?

Example 1:

There are many open items in the issues list.

There are many open items in the list of issues.

Example 2:

He did not include any comments in his book revision.

He did not include any comments in his revision of the book.


1 Answer 1


In example 1, both sentences are valid English, but it sounds better to say "list of issues" in most cases. So the second sentence would be better for a formal setting.

In example 2, both sentences are valid again, but it sounds better to say "book revision" in most cases. Revision of the book is technically more formal, but in this case is also more wordy.

The biggest reason for the first example sounding better as "list of issues" is that "list" is singular while "issues" is plural. This sounds more natural because a list will usually consist of multiple items, so in this case multiple issues.

The second example sounds better for a similar reason. You are creating a single review of a singe book, so it is one book review. While it is still a review of the book, saying it that way is more wordy and so, when speaking in general of a book, it sounds better to simply call it a book review.

However, in the second example, if you were using the title of the book, it would be better to say "review of [title]". In fact, if you hear a news article on a book review on Harry Potter that is done by Mr. Smith, you will likely hear: "In Mr. Smith's review of Harry Potter, he gives the book a positive rating. Many people agree with his book review."


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .