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I have run into some doubt in the exact wording when formulating definitions in English sentences. Which of these sentences are correct?

Let's call such terms for properties

Let's call such terms properties

In some simple sentences I have no doubts, such as in:

Let's call this a cat

But in others I suddenly am not sure if I am missing a binding word, such as in (edited: a better example added):

Let’s name such things to use in the kitchen for kitchen tools.

In this latter sentence, I really feel that I need the for to avoid messing up the understanding of the sentence. I am not sure if this for is just me mixing my native language into it, where you are allowed to say the sentence both with and without the for.

So, are such sentences missing a binding word such as for (or something else; maybe a comma?), and how are the rules about when to use it?

  • To think of these prepositions as mere binding words is to ignore their meanings. A good exercise would be to consult a proper dictionary which describes those meanings. and gives examples. In your example about the kitchen tools, you are not noticing that there are two verbs, name and use, and the prepositional phrase complements use, not name. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 28 '17 at 12:45
  • What is your native language? – Peter Aug 28 '17 at 12:51
  • @Peter My mother tongue is Danish. And clearly from the comment and answer, I have mixed up the languages on this topic. – Steeven Aug 28 '17 at 13:03
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For X when used like this identifies a reason - i.e. "why?", but it won't answer "what?" for a verb's object/target.

Let's call such terms for properties.

This seems like you are saying you want us to call terms, and the reason why has something to do with properties, but you aren't telling us what you're calling the terms.

Let's call such terms properties.

Here you are telling us to call terms something, and also saying the something we should call them is properties.


Let’s call such references to compare with for units.

Well ...

In this latter sentence, I really feel that I need the for to avoid messing up the understanding of the sentence.

I can't understand your sentence at all. Are you saying "call references" in the sense of "make a call on references" or are you telling us to refer to some references under a different label or name?

Are you trying to say this?

Let's call such references units[=what we are calling the references] for comparison[=why we are calling the references units]

  • Thank you for the answer. The last sentence could also be of the form: "Let's name such things to use in the kitchen kitchen tools". The question is if there should be a word in between to bind it together, such as: "Let's name such things to use in the kitchen for kitchen tools". But from you answer it seems not – Steeven Aug 28 '17 at 12:37
  • You need for in front of X if you are using X to explain why you are doing something. You don't need a word in front of X if X is a verb's object. – LawrenceC Aug 28 '17 at 12:39
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Short answer: No.

The word "for" can indicate that you are giving a reason, like "We are naming these terms for convenience". (It can also mean the person or thing who benefits from something, like "We are having this party for Sally", or that you are in favor of something or someone, like "I am for free trade". But I don't think those meanings are what you are thinking of here.)

The correct sentence is

Let's call such terms properties.

It's common when introducing a word like this to put it in quotes, so that it is clear that you are talking about the word and not the thing.

Let's call such terms "properties".

Let’s name such things to use in the kitchen "kitchen tools".

We don't have a "binding word" for this in English. Just give the term.

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