In teachings based on the behavior-oriented approach, general educational goals must be analyzed to the level of objective behavioral goals i.e. observable and measurable behaviors and be classified into the three areas of cognitive, psychomotor, and emotional.

There are three adjectives for areas: cognitive, psychomotor, and emotional areas. The part of text shown in bold seems weird because it uses of+[adjective]. Is the sentence correct as is or should I write three cognitive, psychomotor, and emotional areas? Why?

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    The first such "area" could be referred to as the area of cognitive objective behavioral goals, or the area of cognitive behaviours, for example. The word of is completely appropriate in the cited context. Jan 13, 2015 at 17:35
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    "three areas of + (noun list)" does work better. Corresponding nouns are cognition, ???, and emotion
    – Ben Voigt
    Jan 13, 2015 at 20:21

3 Answers 3


Could you just use a colon and leave out the "the"?

be classified into three areas: cognitive, psychomotor and emotional.

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    Sure, OP could express the same meaning using this completely different syntax. But he's not asking for an alternative - he's asking whether the cited text is "correct". This answer not only completely fails to address that question - by only providing an alternative, it erroneously implies the original might not actually be valid in the first place. Jan 13, 2015 at 17:39

I believe the sentence is more clear as written than in your alternative.

As written, with "three areas" adjacent, it is clear that the writer means that there are three areas, and he then proceeds to list them.

If you wrote, "three cognitive, psychomotor, and emotional areas", it becomes unclear whether you mean that there are three areas, the three listed, or if you mean that there are three cognitive areas, plus a psychomotor area and an emotional area, for a total of five areas.

That is, as written it is clear that "three" modifies "areas". In your alternative, it is not clear if "three" modifies "areas" or "cognitive".

In conventional speech and writing by fluent English speakers, the sentence as written would be considered normal and readily understood. Your alternative would not be normal or conventional.


The sentence is grammatical. I see other problems.

What does it mean to "analyze to the level of objective behaviors"? Does it mean to analyze at the level of (objective/measurable) behaviors?

If you use the (as above), you will tend to communicate that you expect your readers to be familiar with the three domains (or you are teaching them that there are three [and perhaps only three] areas, but in a way that suggests that at least most readers should have already known this). Compare to the idea: "I want to travel the seven continents."

Would you want to use domains instead of areas in such a formal piece?

If you do not expect your target reader(s) to share a knowledge that these three areas are commonly recognized among you (that is, among you as writer and your readers, or among you as--maybe--a community of educational psychologists or learning scientists and professionals), you may wish to avoid using the definite article, the, in referring to them.

  • you're right. Instead of analyzed, I should have used decomposed, and also should have removed the before three. Jan 13, 2015 at 15:35
  • I agree the semtence is grammatical. I suggest it might be easier to parse if the part that reads "i.e. observable and measurable behaviors" were set off by commmas, or even (perhaps) by parentheses. Jan 14, 2015 at 0:11

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