Which one is grammatically correct of these two expressions and why:

  1. EEG has an excellent temporal resolution.
  2. EEG has excellent temporal resolution.

2 Answers 2


This turned out to be an excellent question that took me a lot longer to answer than I'd thought it would.

First of all, depending on how you define the use of EEG (some sources describe it as a process, others as a piece of equipment—a countable noun) both sentences might need something like this in front of them.

1) (This) EEG has an excellent temporal resolution.
2) (This) EEG has excellent temporal resolution.

Idiomatically, my first impression was that both sounded fine to me. But I have been struggling to determine, from a strict grammar perspective, if both actually are fine or if only one is fine. Also, if only one, which one.

If I were writing the sentence myself, I would not write it as you have. Instead, I would rephrase it:

The temporal resolution of this EEG is excellent.

But that doesn't really help me when looking at your phrasing.

I decided to turn to something analogous:

1) This dish has an unusual flavour.
2) This dish has unusual flavour.

My intuition tells me that the first is more natural. Even though the second might be said, the first is a lot more common.

That at least the first form is fine is supported by Merriam-Webster's definition of flavor, in which the first sentence is given as an example—and flavor is a countable noun.

So, is the second form also okay? If the quality being described is something used in an uncountable way, then yes. But doing so would be nonstandard.

Google Books NGram Viewer shows only enough hits to graph "has an unusual flavour":

has an unusual flavor

Google Books does show some hits for "has unusual flavour," but only a very small number. And that only shows usage, not necessarily so-called correct usage.

In looking at various dictionaries, I see that some show resolution (in the sense of detail) as a countable noun, Others (such as Macmillan) show it as uncountable. So, there may be greater room for interpretation with it.

Still, in short, I would say that that you can't go wrong with the first version of your sentence. Even if there is an argument for the second also being okay, and it just being a matter of choice, it seems it would be the less common of the two.

  • Upvoted. But I have always seen "resolution" in the sense of a degree of visibility function as a mass noun. I checked Macmillan, Oxford, and Cambridge, and they seem to concur as regards the countability of the word.
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 7, 2018 at 18:58
  • 1
    @JasonBashford I don't follow the argument that the definite article is needed for subject-verb agreement. Without the article 'EEG' refers to EEG as a technique. With it, 'the EEG' suggests that we are talking about a particular instance of the use of EEG. To use another example, "TV provides excellent evening entertainment" and "the TV provides excellent evening entertainment" are both idiomatic and grammatically correct. Or am I wrong?
    – JeremyC
    Nov 7, 2018 at 22:40
  • @JeremyC EEG is an acronym for electroencephalogram. You would not say "electroencephalogram has excellent resolution." You need to use some kind of an article. It can also be plural: "Electroencephalograms have excellent resolution. EEG is not used as a mass noun in the same way as TV (or television) is. Nov 7, 2018 at 22:47
  • From Wikipedia: "Electroencephalography (EEG) is an electrophysiological monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain." Thus, EEG can be used to refer to a technique. Nov 8, 2018 at 2:30
  • @CowperKettle From the Mayo Clinic (which a more authoritarian source), "an electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain using small, metal discs (electrodes) attached to your scalp." Nov 8, 2018 at 3:10

When referring to diagnostics you can use the acronym with or without article to refer to the diagnostic in a general or non-specific manner. For example:

Of the various types of diagnostic imaging, MRI is best suited to detecting soft-tissue injuries.

An MRI is suitable for soft-tissue injuries.

And with respect to "temporal resolution" you can again use the article or not use it. With

... an excellent temporal resolution

there is an implication that more than one kind of resolution may be offered by the MRI, among them temporal, which is excellent. The other forms of resolution may be less excellent or even more excellent.


... excellent temporal resolution

the assertion is simpler: with respect to temporal resolution, that offered by the MRI is excellent.

So, depending on what your meaning is, use the article or don't use it.

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