a series of & a sequence of

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ironman2012

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

I searched and found the difference between process and course (wikidiff.com): As nouns the difference between process and course is that process is a series of events to produce a result, especially as contrasted to product while course is a sequence of events.

But I'm still not clear about the difference. What is a series of events, and what does a sequence of events mean? Can you give me an example?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't think those definitions are very helpful.

    A series is a number of events, objects or whatever coming one after the other.
    A sequence is the order in which such a series is arranged.

    process –
    A series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

    course – The way in which something progresses or develops. As in: ‘the course of history’
    Also:
    course – A procedure adopted to deal with a situation.
    As in: ‘They can advise on the best course of action and even arrange for an ambulance to be sent if needed.’
     

    expos4ever

    Member
    English - Canada/USA
    With reference to lingo's reply: if "sequence" really does denote the "the order in which such a series is arranged", the term "sequence" takes the existence of the set of events as given and focuses strictly on the qualifying attribute of "order". It would then follow, I think, that one should not use the phrase "a sequence of events" just as one would not use "an order of events" or "a timing of actions".

    But - and this is getting complicated so perhaps I am overthinking this - if, per lingo's definitions a "series" is "a number of events, objects or whatever coming one after the other", then one should not use "a series of events" either; one should simply use "a series" since, by definition the term "series" already contains the concept of an event. Analogy: we would say "team", not "team of players".

    In summary: if the foregoing is all correct, we use "a series" when we want the reader to see the set of ordered events, while we use "the sequence" when we want the reader's attention to focus solely on the time-ordering.

    Reality check: I suspect that the harsh reality is that such distinctions, even if correct, have been lost and people use the phrases "series of events" and "sequence of events" to mean the same thing - a set of events ordered in time.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    All those definitions are Oxford's, apart from the one I gave for sequence, which they define as: A particular order in which related things follow each other.
     
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