0
  1. That is characteristic of this method.
  2. That is the characteristic of this method.
  3. That is the characteristic feature of this method.

Are all of the above sentences correct? Which is the most idiomatic one?

3
  • None of the phrases are more than sentence fragments. They might make sense in context, but they don't stand on their own. (What is?) That aside, there is nothing making any of the phrases more or less understandable or acceptable than the others. Jun 1 '19 at 20:25
  • @JasonBassford They all have a subject and predicate, which means they are not fragments. This is true. That is true. All sentences....
    – Lambie
    Jun 1 '19 at 22:44
  • @lambie Yes, that's true. But they aren't semantically self-contained. Here's a sentence: I am a red pill. It's a complete sentence from both a syntactic and semantic point of view. There isn't anything being left out. (The fact that it still doesn't make sense isn't the fault of any of the components per se.) But even something like this is true (a simpler example), while having all of the pieces of a normal sentence (I admit my use of fragment isn't common), doesn't make sense on its own. It's missing a necessary referent; it needs context in order to be understood. Jun 1 '19 at 23:23
1

There are subtle differences

The three examples would be interpreted as identical by most people. However, there are some subtle differences worth mentioning.

That is characteristic of this method.

In this example, we are discussing one of one or more characteristics from all known characteristics for the method. Mathematically, the set of characteristics [1,∞]

That is the characteristic of this method.

In this example, we are discussing the one and only one characteristic of the method. Mathematically, [1].

That is the characteristic feature of this method.

In this example, we discussing the one and only one characteristic of one of one ore more features of the method. Most often, this will be interpreted as a verbose version of example #2. However, if the "method" has different descriptors (feature, attribute, context, etc.) then it can express more detail than example #2.

5
  • I can substitute typical for characteristic in the first sentence, while still preserving its meaning. But I can't make the same substitution in the second sentence. In the first sentence, characteristic is an adjective; in the second sentence, it's a noun. I would not say that the first two sentences are essentially identical; there is more than just a subtle difference between them. (The third sentence has elements of both the first and second.) Jun 1 '19 at 23:30
  • @JasonBassford, Can you replace as stated in the first sentence? "This is a typical of this method." You can adjust the sentences to swap adjective vs. noun back and forth, but it's not that simple. Are you principally concerned with my use of "subtle?" That can be easily removed. Jun 2 '19 at 0:30
  • You can't use that is a typical in the first sentence because the first sentence doesn't have an a in the first place, since characteristic is not being used as a noun. (And typical can't be used as a noun anyway.) But you can say that is typical because it is a synonymous adjective. That's my point. And it's also my point that the first two uses of characteristic are quite different. It's not enough to just remove subtle; it's not the case that the first two sentences would be interpreted as identical by most people. Jun 2 '19 at 1:47
  • @JasonBassford, I never suggested using "typical" as a noun. Odd. What if you post your own answer? Jun 2 '19 at 5:42
  • I was addressing your comment (emphasis mine): "Can you replace as stated in the first sentence? 'This is a typical of this method.' You can adjust the sentences to swap adjective vs. noun back and forth, but it's not that simple." The use of the indefinite article means you suggested using it as a noun. It's also not the case that you can "swap adjective vs. noun back and forth" without either resulting in something asyntactic or having quite a different meaning. Jun 2 '19 at 5:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .