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What is the meaning of "adjusted to" in the following sentence?

Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) have significant and lasting effects on liquid water.

Using a weak field, adjusted to give a magnetic field of 45 µT, on glutamic acid solutions causes changes in the pH shifting towards the de-protonated species.

(Source : https://water.lsbu.ac.uk/water/magnetic_electric_effects.html)

Does "adjusted to" in the sentence mean "If we use a weak field, a weak field is adjusted to give a magnetic field of 45µT by us" ?

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    It isn't clear what you're asking here, but maybe you're confusing the transitive and intransitive meanings of adjust? In that sentence, "adjusted" is the passive form of the transitive meaning - the field was adjusted [in order] to give a magnetic field... You could replace "adjusted" with "calibrated" and the sentence would keep almost exactly the same meaning. It is not an example of the intransitive meaning, like in "They adjusted to the colder weather." (In that example, "adjusted" is in the active voice instead of passive.) Nov 1, 2023 at 6:32
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    Would you understand "Using a weak field, generated by an electromagnet, on glutamic acid..."? It's the same construction.
    – Stuart F
    Nov 1, 2023 at 11:33
  • Stuart F// If so, does "Using a weak field, generated by an electromagnet," mean "Using a weak field, a weak field was generated by an electromagnet" ? If the subject and verb are missing from a sentence, it cannot be interpreted well. So, I try to interpret it by inserting subjects and verbs that may be missing. If a comma is used in a modifying sentence, does it remove the subject and verb from the modifying sentence?
    – user175012
    Nov 1, 2023 at 23:26
  • In modifying sentences, only sentences where the subject and verb are missing are often used, Can't we make picture books with these sentences that even young children can easily learn and encounter frequently? Sentences like these appear too often in books without pictures. So, even if I understood it at first, as time goes by, I tend to forget it really quickly. Are there any picture books that can train me to remember these sentences for a long time?
    – user175012
    Nov 1, 2023 at 23:37
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    "Using a weak field, generated by an electromagnet" should be read as "Using a weak field, [which was] generated by an electromagnet". Similarly, your original sentence should be read as "Using a weak field, [which was] adjusted to give ..." Nov 2, 2023 at 2:20

2 Answers 2

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"Adjusted" and "to" are separate words here, not a phrasal verb nor any other a single structure.

In your sentence, "adjusted" means roughly, "which has been adjusted". The structure [ "adjust" + something + "to" + base form verb ] roughly means, "adjust something such that it verbs, so the whole sentence can be rewritten:

Using a weak field, which has been adjusted such that it gives a magnetic field of 45 µT...

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Using a weak field, adjusted to give a magnetic field of 45 µT, on glutamic acid solutions causes changes in the pH shifting towards the de-protonated species.

This is not a very good sentence. It's too complicated, it's confusing, and it's missing a comma:

Using a weak field, adjusted to give a magnetic field of 45 µT, on glutamic acid solutions causes changes in the pH, shifting towards the de-protonated species.

It is strange to say "adjusted" here. They should just say "Using a weak magnetic field of 45 µT". That's what it means, and that would be easier to understand.

The basic structure of the sentence is like this: "[Doing something] causes [something else]." The subject of the sentence is the entire first part, before the word "causes":

Using a weak field, adjusted to give a magnetic field of 45 µT, on glutamic acid solutions

If you remove the part between the commas, the subject of the sentence is:

Using a weak field on glutamic acid solutions

It has the same structure as if I said:

Using an eraser on my paper

or

Using a shovel on the dirt

The part between the commas can be read like this:

Using a weak field, [which was] adjusted to give a magnetic field of 45 µT, on glutamic acid solutions

You could similarly say:

Using a shovel, held in my hands, on the dirt

Which would mean:

Using a shovel, [which was] held in my hands, on the dirt

The whole sentence is in the passive voice, which makes it more annoying to read. If it's describing an experiment the author actually performed, you could rewrite the whole sentence like this:

We used a weak field. We adjusted the field, to give a magnetic field of 45 µT. We used the field on glutamic acid solutions. This caused changes in the pH of the solutions. The solutions were shifted towards the de-protonated species.

(Obviously you wouldn't write it this way in a real paper; I just wanted to illustrate the most direct possible way to say it.)

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    While I agree that it is a complex sentence, I can't help but point that (a) this sentence would be easier to parse when spoken out loud with the right intonation, pauses, and possible hand gestures and (b) if you look at the page on which this sentence is found, the subject matter is decidedly more complex than your average conversation and the complexity of this sentence does not stand out as an obstacle when trying to read through the document. I suspect this is targeted at people who are innately familiar with the subject matter, written by someone who is used to giving lectures.
    – Flater
    Nov 2, 2023 at 5:34
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    Certainly it's complex subject matter, but if anything I claim that's a good reason to write as clearly as possible. I'm definitely guilty of writing things that are more obscure than they need to be, but it's a bad habit. I have edited the end of my answer, to note that my ultra-simplified example is not meant as a recommended writing style. It goes much too far the other way. Nov 2, 2023 at 5:37
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    It's not always possible to express complex subject matters using simple language - or at least it would lead to a significantly longer block of text, which becomes needlessly prohibitive for readers who are familiar enough with the subject matter to not need the simplification. The current phrasing is very to the point and unambiguous about what it's trying to convey, which is the primary purpose of research publications - ease of reading is a lower priority than strict correctness and disambiguation.
    – Flater
    Nov 2, 2023 at 5:41

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