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How do you negate the phrase

If this is the first row ...

to a phrase like this:

If this is the second or __ row

What is the word you insert in the gap? Is it 'later'?

Is there a better way to negate aboves phrase?

I don't want to write something like this:

If it is at least the second row

If it is not the first row

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    How about these: "If this is on or after row 2", "If this is the second or after row", or "If this is any row but the first" – Damkerng T. May 2 '14 at 7:20
  • Thank you. I think I will go with 'If the current row has a predecessor ...' because it conveys more precisely meaning in my case. But I am still interested in how to fill the gap in the above phrase. – Angelo.Hannes May 2 '14 at 7:59
  • What about "If it is not the first row"? – mahmood May 2 '14 at 8:05
  • @mahmood I'm writing documentation. And I want to write, that an action is executed if some state is met. And not that an action is executed because some state is not met. I think that way should be more precise and convey intuition. – Angelo.Hannes May 2 '14 at 8:26
  • Might be easier to use numbers instead of 'first' & 'second'. If you are in Row 2 or higher..., If the number of your row is 1 do this, if it is greater than 1, do that, etc – mcalex May 2 '14 at 9:10
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I'll talk a little bit about style in technical documentation, since I have a bit of experience. The important thing is to explain as clearly and simply as possible.

Let's say you are speaking about a cursor in a recordset, and you wish to do one thing (we'll call that thing X) if you are on the first row, and another thing (we'll call this one Y) if you are on any other row. You might say this:

If the current row is the first row of the recordset, do X. If the current row is the second or subsequent row, do Y.

I wouldn't say "If the current row of the recordset has a predecessor, do Y, otherwise do X." This is perfectly clear, but it is less simple, because it requires the reader to reason out that only the first row does not have a predecessor, and also that otherwise in this case refers to the first row. While it might not be difficult for your audience to do this, it still requires more brain overhead than my example.

Another thing that requires brain overhead is the use of pronouns, because the mind has to allocate memory space to what the pronoun refers to. So, you will note that I have repeated "current row" in the second sentence, rather than saying "it".

So, your primary goal is to communicate the idea while requiring as little of the reader's effort as possible to make the idea understood. Setting combined secondary goals of clarity and simplicity will help you to accomplish this. Keep in mind that clarity and simplicity are often contradictory, because if you oversimplify you lose clarity, and if you overexplain you lose simplicity. Work on striking a balance between the two.

[Edit] In my example, I removed "any other row" in favor of FumbleFingers's "second and subsequent row". In part, it is a bit more precise, since it requires a bit of brain overhead to realize that "any other row" means the second row and all rows thereafter. Also, it is as he says a standard phrase. Another part of accomplishing the goal of requiring as little effort as possible on the part of the reader is to use phrases that are already well understood to mean specific things in your technical area of expertise.

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  • +1 particularly for the final sentence. It's true second or subsequent is a bit of a mouthful - but as you say, because it's such a common usage the average native speaker will already be familiar with it, so it's easily and quickly parsed/understood as a single item. – FumbleFingers May 2 '14 at 14:47
  • Thank you for elaborating on the technical documentation aspect. 'Subsequent' is the word I was looking for. But I'm still wondering whether, by your definition, it would be better using predecessor. Since having a predecessor is an essential part of the action being executed. It isn't that first rows are handled differently, merely because they are first, but because they don't have a predecessor. You guessed right about the cursor on a recordset. But the predecessor is not iterator wise, but respectively to the creation date. – Angelo.Hannes May 2 '14 at 19:22
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Standard phrasing in OP's context is If this is the second or subsequent row.

subsequent - following in order or succession; succeeding

Note that you don't always need to include "second or" - providing first has been recently mentioned within the discourse, subsequent would apply to that, and be understood to include the second anyway. Also note that in some contexts it's more appropriate to refer to "all items except the first" collectively, in the plural, in which case it would be second and subsequent.

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  • You can also say "If this is a row subsequent to the first". – BobRodes May 2 '14 at 14:07

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