Let's suppose a test engineer describes their work responsibilities in a resume. Which phrase would be correct?

  • Writing tests

  • Test writing

UPDATE: The responsibility I meant is creating, implementing a special kind of software - one that performs automatic testing of something.

  • There are a few possible meanings of both "writing tests" and "test writing", and they would depend on context. Can you state precisely what you intend it to mean? Also, this might be terminology rather than English grammar. You might be better asking someone in the same industry rather than what makes sense to people outside of that line of work. – Astralbee Feb 3 '20 at 10:27
  • @Astralbee I've updated the question. – Chris Brettini Feb 3 '20 at 15:45

Either of these could mean different things, in different contexts:

  • My job involves writing tests (creating software that tests computer system integrity)
  • My job involves writing tests (creating exams that test children's writing ability)
  • I have some writing tests today (you have to sit, or complete a test of your writing ability)

When you abbreviate something, as you propose to in a list of duties, the context has already been set. The reader should know that you are an engineer and, presuming you have included this on your resume because you are pursuing a new job in the same industry, the reader should understand the same terminology as you do.

If I understand your intended meaning correctly - that your job involves creating test software, then either of your suggestions seem like they would be equally understandable to an English language speaker, in context. However, as this may be industry terminology, you would be best consulting someone within the same industry. Terminology does not always mirror idiomatic English language.

  • Thank you very much! What I meant is creating, implementing a special kind of software - one that performs automatic testing of something. I have additional question - doesn't the phrase "Writing tests" sound like "the tests that write something" (by analogy with "the talking friends" - it means that there are some friends and they are talking to each other) – Chris Brettini Feb 3 '20 at 15:41
  • I am in this industry. I would say "Writing tests". On a strictly grammatical level, yes, it could mean tests which write something, but it does not sound like that because tests ordinarily do not write, so there is no real danger of ambiguity. On the other hand, you could contrive a scenario such as "I created tests for both reading from and writing to the database - the reading tests passed but the writing tests failed". In such context, we understand it as tests which write. But that is a contrived example. On a resume it will naturally read as "[I was responsible for] writing tests" – stevekeiretsu Feb 3 '20 at 17:50

By test engineer, I assume you mean something similar to a technical author or simply an engineer who documents their work.

While both Writing tests and Test writing are grammatically correct, you're asking this in reference to a CV/Resume. As such I would recommend you write it as:

Test documentation or someone who Documents their tests

Assuming you're creating this from the perspective of a technical user.

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