In what capacity have you known the applicant

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Liska-kapriska, Mar 3, 2013.

  1. Liska-kapriska New Member

    Russian
    I asked my professor to give me a reference letter. She has to register online and fill the form. There's a question "In what capacity have you known the applicant " and the choices of answer "Professor, Employer or Job Supervisor, Research Adviser, Other". I'm a bit confused, since I'm not a native speaker. Should it be put in "Professor" or "" Other: student". Thanks in advance.
     
  2. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    Just to show how confusing it is, I look at it the other way.

    If you turn the question around, it becomes a little (but not much) clearer:

    "You have known the applicant in what capacity."

    "In what capacity" modifies "known" and it is "You" who is doing the "knowing", so it is "Your" capacity. i.e. Your professor's capacity, so the answer is "professor".

    The other clue to this is that a reference letter always follows and is linked to an application and that application will have your status on it. Logically, the information that the employer wants is the relationship of the referee to the applicant.

    The final clue is the list of choices: "Professor, Employer or Job Supervisor, Research Adviser" all of which are above student in status, so the person asking is looking for the referee's status. Referees are usually above the status of the applicant.

    I agree that the question is very badly written but I recognise it as a very common question (almost formulaic) that often appears in that manner.

    The better question would be, "What position do you hold in relation to the applicant?"
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  3. Liska-kapriska New Member

    Russian
    I know that it is very badly written but I'm still not sure what to put in. The list of choices gave me the same clue. So, you think I should choose "Professor"?
     
  4. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    Welcome to the forum, Liska-kapriska!

    The question I find totally ambiguous.
    It is a multiple-choice question, otherwise there would be no problem answering.
    However, I agree with PaulQ that the answer should be Professor. Even so, I have some doubts.

    PS In #4 you say that you are entering the answer. But in #1 you said it was your professor.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  5. Liska-kapriska New Member

    Russian
    Thanks a lot for the help
     
  6. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    My apologies, Liska-kapriska. If the form is asking the professor what her relationship to you is, then she should choose: Professor

    Earlier, I thought the form was asking about you. That idea is wrong.
     
  7. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    The ambiguity is between I have been the applicant's professor and The applicant has been a student of mine. Both these sentences are surely a reply to In what capacity?
    I don't see how there can be no ambiguity.
     
  8. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    I've changed my mind, e2efour. I'm sorry for questioning yours and Paul Q's thinking. Apparently the form is asking the professor to explain her relationship to Liska-kapriska. In that case, she should choose "Professor", right?
     
  9. Liska-kapriska New Member

    Russian
    Yeah, actually my professor has to fill this form, but since she's not a native speaker, she got confused by this question and asked me. The list of choices gave a clue that it sould be "Professor". You conviced me now :) Thanks for your help and quick respond!
     
  10. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 73)
    UK English
    I think it confusing (to say nothing of irresponsible) to have a multiple-choice question like this. I looked through various reference forms on the internet and most had an open question, which presents no problems.
    It's good, by the way, to have one's thinking questioned. :) (Another ambiguity, by one's I mean mine!)
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013

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