When writing an answer on ux.stackExchange I wanted to refer to an action that needed to be explicit, and I'm doubting if there's any difference between this two ways of saying that of if one is better (in any sense) than the other.

"It will be better to set the first radio button as default, because the "explicit" action needed / "explicit" needed action is the 2nd.

  • 1
    I might actually say the needed explicit action, since what you need is an explicit action – user6951 Nov 14 '14 at 4:34
  • I don't fully get the meaning of the sentence. Do we set the first radio button "active" by default to make sure the user commits an "explicit action" if he wants to pick button 2 instead? – CowperKettle Nov 14 '14 at 6:59

"Explicit needed action or explicit action needed"

The phrase "explicit action needed is correct". The former one doesn't make sense. In the correct phrase, the adjective "explicit" modifies "action" and the adjective "needed" modifies "explicit action".

However, I also agree with CarSmack that we can say "the needed explicit action". In this phrase also, the adjective "explicit" modifies action and the other adjective "needed" modifies "explicit action". In grammar, the adjective that modifies a noun and the adjective that modifies a paired phrase (adj + noun) are called cumulative adjectives. In order to decide as to which phrase is correct, we put "and" between these adjectives, rearrange their order and see which phrase makes sense and which phrase makes no sense. The phrase that makes sense will be considered to be correct.

As both the phrases "the needed explicit action and the explicit action needed" make sense, we can use either of them.


It will be.... explicit needed action. - does not sound natural.

The word 'explicit' serves as an adjective here and thus the structure

It will be... because explicit action is needed.

looks better.

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