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Suppose, If I am comparing two segments and then I want to compare their areas and need to find smaller one.

The segment having a smaller area can then be chosen as a vehicle.

The segment having a small area can then be chosen as a vehicle.

What would be correct? I know I should use a comparative adjective, but in this case I am confused.

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The segment having a smaller area can then be chosen as a vehicle.

This choice is closer to correct. I perceive your problem not as coming from the selection of an appropriate adjective (“smaller” is correct), but from matching the articles in the sentence.

The segment having a smaller area can then be chosen as a vehicle.

becomes:

The segment having the smaller area can then be chosen as the vehicle.

The reasoning here is that you are referring to a specific thing in each case.

  • The segment...” (we're going to pick a specific one out of a pair)

  • “...the smaller area...” (out of the two areas, this one meets the specific criterion)

  • “...as the vehicle.” (now, with this one, you actually have a choice to make. I don't have all the context, but basically it depends on whether or not this is the only vehicle being produced by whatever's taking place or one of multiple vehicles. I also don't know what you mean by “vehicle” in this case.)


The other minor issue is that “having” is awkward. In this case (an object with a static trait), it would be better to phrase it as “the [object] with the [trait]” so that the whole thing becomes:

The segment with the smaller area can then be chosen as the vehicle.

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  • thanks for the analysis and very clear explanation. its great.
    – gnp
    Oct 11 '13 at 20:50
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Smaller is the comparative form of small, so you want to go with your first sentence.

Imagine that you would consider anything under, say, 1 unit as "small", and you have a segment that is 0.5 units and another that is 0.48 units. If you said "choose the segment having a small area", I could say "but they're both small! I need to pick just one of them!"

Conversely, if the segments are 10 units and 11 units, I could say "but neither of them is small! Now I can't choose a vehicle!".

By using smaller, you establish that I am only comparing the segments to each other, instead of comparing both of them to some outside standard.

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