This might be a strange question.

I want to compare something happening at the moment with another thing done a little earlier, and again with something done even earlier, etc.

So, I guess I should use the terms "current", "previously". Is this correct?

As my original post might be confused the reader, I am adding my problematic sentence as;

When a mis-match arises, then the previously fixed edge should be fixed again with respect to the current edge and the edge before that with respect to the previous edge etc.

My confusion is how to mention the one before previous value, and the two before previous value, and so on.... any way to say this. Any rectification on my sentence please?

  • 2
    Don't. Even a well-formed sentence comparing more than three values is tedious. Put the values in a table instead. Mar 22, 2013 at 1:09
  • @StoneyB: thats fine. but when describing whole thing any alternative to say this. please let me know
    – niro
    Mar 22, 2013 at 1:14
  • The current value is 7, the immediately preceding value is 12, the value before that 9, and the values before that 4, 8, 13, 10, 11, 6, 12, 6 and 8. OR The earliest value is 8 and succeeding values are 6, 12, 6, 11, 10, 13, 8, 4, 9, 12 down to the current value of 7. Mar 22, 2013 at 1:27
  • Why not say something like: "Comparing the most recent value with each of the prior values..."
    – Jim
    Mar 22, 2013 at 3:13

2 Answers 2


You might use the term ripple effect.

ripple effect: a situation in which one thing causes a series of other things to happen

So you could word your sentence like this:

A mismatch has a ripple effect: the current edge should be fixed with respect to the previously-fixed edge, which will need to be reaffixed to the edge before that, etc.

Yet another phrase you might use is chain reaction:

A mismatch will cause a chain reaction: the current edge should be fixed with respect to the previously-fixed edge, which will need to be reaffixed to the edge before that, etc.

Collins defines chain reaction as:

chain reaction: a series of rapidly occurring events, each of which precipitates the next

  • thanks. which is very new to me (as a non native speaker)
    – niro
    Mar 22, 2013 at 9:19
  • 1
    @niro: The key was when you added the more specific example; that made it much easier to figure out what you were trying to figure out :^)
    – J.R.
    Mar 22, 2013 at 9:22
  • Sorry for to contact you again. in my case "previously fixed edge should be fixed again with respect to the current edge" (by mistake you edit it another way). that mean it goes backward. So, can I use your suggestion irrespective from going to future or to the past actions.??
    – niro
    Mar 22, 2013 at 9:58
  • I'm no expert in your sentence's subject matter (topography); I did my best to figure out what you were saying. That said, you should be able to use ripple effect or chain reaction to set up the sentence.
    – J.R.
    Mar 22, 2013 at 10:51
  • sorry for the inconveniences. I thought, that terms can be used only for forwarding actions..not the backwarding. sorry again. i think can use for either direction as long as one affect the other (according to the definitions). thanks again
    – niro
    Mar 22, 2013 at 10:59

I agree with StoneyB's comment above - a table is probably the best way to go here.

If you absolutely must accomplish this in the form of a sentence, you could approach it like this:

The current price is $45, the last price was $44, and the price before that was $43.

However, as StoneyB said, if you can present the information in a graphical or visual way, it will be easier for your readers to understand.

  • I agree. but this is not the case. I want to say something more generally. then i cannot use values.
    – niro
    Mar 22, 2013 at 1:16
  • 2
    @niro: If you're going to list 3 or more values/states that have changed over time, you're making it awkward for yourself by starting with "current" description, then the immediately-preceding one, then the one before that, etc. People normally think in chronological sequence; you should probably present your list that way. Mar 22, 2013 at 2:40
  • @niro: If you are going to shoot down every suggestion with, "but I can't use that because...", then you should add a better example to your question, so it's obvious why using a table or using values is not the right answer. (Please, don't explain it in a comment back to me - edit your question.)
    – J.R.
    Mar 22, 2013 at 7:44
  • @J.R.: really sorry for the confusion, I have added my case
    – niro
    Mar 22, 2013 at 9:02

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