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I really need your help with this. I get extremely frustrated when I don’t know how to know the right use of these cases. Please extend your help by providing me any websites or tips to fully understand and explore this.

1- The discussed problems are not serious. Vs The problems discussed are not serious.

2- The data received is helpful. Vs The received data is helpful.

3 - The specified time works for me. Vs The time specified works for me.

What is the difference? How can you know which one to use?

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  • You can really help yourself by working out the full (uncontracted) versions of these phrases. Since you know they are contractions, have a go at adding in what was taken out. (For the record: each of the phrases you've cited is gramatically correct.)
    – JMB
    Aug 4 '15 at 21:26
  • The hypothesis that they're "contracted" can be shown to be false by examining phrases that can't be expanded: "a matter concerning the public interest", "an affidavit containing all the basic factual material", "a society consisting of educated people" (Biber et al. 1999 p.631-2). In all three examples, the verbs are stative (in the relevant senses) and resist being rephrased with full relative clauses in the progressive; people would not say "a matter which is concerning the public interest", and even if they did, it would have dynamic meaning the original does not.
    – user230
    Aug 5 '15 at 2:00
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As JMB has said, both ways are equally correct. Let's look at these:

The discussed problems are not serious.

In this case, discussed is a "participle adjective", where the past participle of the verb is used to modify the noun problems.

The problems discussed are not serious.
The problems that we discussed are not serious.

This is what JMB means by the "uncontracted" version; these are saying the same thing. "That we" (or "that have been", "that were", etc.) is implied in the sentence as you have it.

The same applies to your other examples.

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  • Please check out my answer to see if i am right or wrong.thanks
    – amin
    Aug 4 '15 at 21:42
  • Your answer is fine, although I don't personally draw the distinction that you do between A and B. In my opinion, there could be other problems to discuss in either case.
    – BobRodes
    Aug 4 '15 at 21:57
  • So, "The problems discussed are not serious " could the problems mean that they are already discussed or not yet? and there is no difference in the meaning between the two sentences ? right ? Aug 4 '15 at 22:02
  • BobRodes, in this sentence: The books that have red covers are new. why should i use the in this sentence? i mean what does the refer to? i believe when i say the books, i mean for example books on the table and among them those that have red covers are new. am i right?
    – amin
    Aug 4 '15 at 22:08
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    @amin: In your example, omitting the article implies you're making a statement about all books (i.e. - until recently, no books ever had red covers, but now some / all do). By the same token, Problems discussed are not serious without the article would normally be understood as a general statement/aphorism probably meaning If you discuss problems openly they cease to be serious (c.f. - A problem shared is a problem halved). Aug 4 '15 at 22:20
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First of all you should know that in your cases, you are using 2 different structures, lets check case 1:

The discussed problems are not serious. (A)

The problems discussed are not serious. (B)

in (A) you are using adjective+noun whereas in (B) you are using adjective clause.

When you are using adjective clause, you have the power to mention the time, i mean in (B) you can say: The problems that are discussed (are going to be discussed) are not serious. it means that the problems haven't been discussed yet.

Or you can say: The problems that were discussed are not serious. so it means they discussed the problems.

In (A) you say the discussed problems. it means that the discussing has finished.

So in a situation when the discussion hasn't been started yet, saying the discussed problems are not serious is wrong, but saying the problems discussed are not serious is right.

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  • I got confused. So, if I read sentence B alone, then it always means that the problems are not discussed yet or already discussed? Aug 4 '15 at 21:59
  • Ghaith, study about adjective clause, then you realize that relative pronoun and verb to be can be omitted, so when you have just: The problems discussed are not serious, you can understand in the context what the verb is. for example, i am in a meeting and the discussion has not been started yet, when somebody say The problems discussed are not serious i can understand the sentence is like this: The problems that are discussed(are going to be discussed) are not serious.
    – amin
    Aug 4 '15 at 22:19
  • but if i am in a meeting and i know the discussing is over the sentence The problems discussed are not serious is actually this: The problems that were discussed are not serious
    – amin
    Aug 4 '15 at 22:20
  • Check out this site. note that adjective clause and relative clause are the same thing.
    – amin
    Aug 4 '15 at 23:12

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