1

Example:

I have two PCs that have the same applications installed, but the version of some of the applications is different between the two PCs. So, I need to identify an application whose version is different between the two PCs by comparing the version of each of the applications in one PC with the version of a corresponding application in the other PC.

I would like to know the usage of article for the bold word "an application". In the example, the number of applications whose version is different between the two PCs is undefined yet (i.e., may be only one or may be more than one) because the identification is not started yet. In such a case, do native speakers use a singular form or a plural form?

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I recommend using "any applications". This allows for there to be none or one or several.

So, I need to identify any applications whose version is different between the two PCs...

Note that "applications" is plural.

  • When referring back to "any applications", does a plural form is used ? For example, "Then, I will update the identified applications." – rama9 Feb 10 '17 at 19:49
  • Yes, you use a plural form, because applications is plural. (By the way, it should be "is a plural form used?" We never say "does it is" in English - do is only for use with verbs that aren't "to be".) – stangdon Feb 10 '17 at 20:26
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I'm not 100% sure what you're asking, but I'll have a go at tackling it.

In this context:

an application

Refers to one and only one individual "application". It is singular. If you want to talk about the possibility of multiple applications being out of date, you would say

So, I need to identify one or more applications whose versions are different

or

So, I need to figure out how many applications differ in version between the two PCs.

  • I agree that using "one or more" expresses precisely what I mean, but feels redundant a little. I would like to know whether using "an application" removes the possibility of multiple applications being out of date and using "applications" removes the possibility of only one application being out of date. – rama9 Feb 10 '17 at 19:12
  • "an application" means one and only one application, "applications" means two or more applications. – mstorkson Feb 10 '17 at 19:21

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