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To me, and based on dictionary definitions a "determinative factor", a "determinant" and a "decisive factor", imply a truely "crucial factor" which can lead you to make a decision about something.

Also, I think I can use the noun "determinant" instead of "a determinative factor":

Determinant:

Something that controls or affects what happens in a particular situation:

  • Soil and climate are the main determinants of how land is used.

Determinative:

  1. able to or serving to settle or determine; deciding
    1. a factor, circumstance, etc. that settles or determines
  • A determinative factor influences that are determinative of future behavior.

Added;
Decisive:

If a fact, action, or event is decisive, it makes it certain that there will be a "particular result". "Strongly affecting" how a situation will progress or end. An action, event etc that is decisive has "a big effect on the way that something develops"; a "decisive factor"/effect/influence etc.

  • The economy is regarded as the decisive factor which will determine the outcome of the general election.

Note: for all these terms, we have only one single term in our language which encapsulates all of these meanings.

I wonder if you could tell me more about these three terms.

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  • Is the use of decisive in your question a typo? Because decisive means something different from determinative. May 18, 2019 at 17:11
  • Also, determinant is a noun, while determinative is an adjective. They have different syntactical roles. May 18, 2019 at 17:12
  • Not at all @Jason Bassford. They mean very similar things to me. A decisive factor based on dictionaries means too close to a crucial factor as well as a determinative factor. "Determinant" is a noun which can surve as a "determinative factor" to me.
    – A-friend
    May 18, 2019 at 18:23
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    So you are contrasting determinative with decisive? You need to rephrase your question so that's clear. But you also shouldn't be asking two questions. Pick one or the other (the difference between determinative and decisive or the difference between determinative and determinant). Make this question about just one, and post a separate question for the other. And if you do think that determinative and decisive mean the same thing, you should provide dictionary definitions that support that claim. May 18, 2019 at 18:28
  • Thank you @Jason Bassford. That was a good point and I will do that. But the problem is that they all mean the same thing for me. Why I have to devide this thread into two separated questions. Instead, I think that it would be better if I make this question more specific focusing all the four concepts. Do you agree? If you confirm that, I will do my best to change the question in the way I mentioned. :)
    – A-friend
    May 18, 2019 at 20:16

1 Answer 1

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This NGram graph appears to show that "determinant" is the most widely used term, but single word NGrams almost always occur more frequently than two-word ones. It's not a word that I would use anyway, other than with the mathematical sense, and it does not give the sense of "the most most important factor". For that, you need to say "critical determinant", which does not do so well.

"critical factor" and "determining factor" are the most widely used expressions to convey this meaning.

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  • How bout "decisive factor" @JavaLatte?
    – A-friend
    Oct 25, 2021 at 23:32
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    @A-friend check the Ngram graph.
    – JavaLatte
    Oct 26, 2021 at 5:57

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