a/the positive ID

VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
Mulder is doubting that a dead body was belonged to a specific person. He asks a medical examiner:
— How did you know? [that it was him]
— It said so on the toe tag.
— Who made positive ID on the body?
The X-Files, TV series

Obviously, an article is missing here. Which one do you think it should've been -- A or THE?
Who made a/the positive ID on the body?
Thank you.
 
  • VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    But it must be countable:confused::

    ID
    2. countable ↑ identification •
    The police need a witness to make a positive ID.
    OALD
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    In BE I would say a positive ID of/on, although "the" could be used.
    Could you tell please what nuance/difference would there be in the movie context between A and THE version?
    Who made a positive ID on the body?
    Who made the positive ID on the body?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Only one positive (certain, verifiable) ID is needed, e.g. one family member says "Yes, that's my mother." then they don't ask any more. There's no real reason to count because the count is one. In law enforcement lingo, you either have positive ID or you don't. You don't have 12 positive IDs.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    Myridon's right, although I would have used "the" (and next time I'm asked to write a filmscript with a scene like this, I will). But either "the" or no article is acceptable here.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Oh, so it "must be," because a learner's dictionary controls the English language. :rolleyes: I guess reality counts for nothing. Well, believe what you want.
    But "identification" is both countable and uncountable. And so is ID, by the way. But in this particular meaning -- positive ID -- it's, according to OALD, countable.
    I don't know since I don't understand the purpose of the question. How does the dialogue continue?
    Mulder was told the name of the person who made (a/the:confused:) positive ID.
    Only one positive (certain, verifiable) ID is needed, e.g. one family member says "Yes, that's my mother." then they don't ask any more. There's no real reason to count because the count is one. In law enforcement lingo, you either have positive ID or you don't. You don't have 12 positive IDs.
    But if you google "the witness made a positive ID" you get 9 returns, for "the witness made positive ID" you get nothing.
    Myridon's right, although I would have used "the" (and next time I'm asked to write a filmscript with a scene like this, I will). But either "the" or no article is acceptable here.
    Sorry, but why THE?
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Is "positive ID" just a noun phrase to which the common rules of using articles apply?
    — How did you know that it was him?
    — It said so on the toe tag.
    — Who made a positive ID on the body?
    — Lauren Kyte.
    — When did she make the positive ID ?

    That work?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You will not here that in any police drama.
    Let's say you lost your key. Someone found your key. Once it's found, it's found. You don't wait around for other people to find it. There's not a finding of the key, then several more findings of the key before you pick one to be the finding of the key. The same thing applies to positive ID.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    You will not here that in any police drama.
    Let's say you lost your key. Someone found your key. Once it's found, it's found. You don't wait around for other people to find it. There's not a finding of the key, then several more findings of the key before you pick one to be the finding of the key. The same thing applies to positive ID.
    And yet it's countable in OALD, and in the internet you'll find "a positive ID" often that "positive ID". Maybe it's just an AE/BE?...:(:confused:

    Anyway, imagine please my dialog in #11 with zero article instead of the indefinite one.
    What do you think, it works then?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    In the internet, you'll find everything. Please don't use that as an argument. :mad: Does OALD have a separate entry for "positive identification"? It's a special case and it's jargon.
    Yes, you can use "positive ID" as it was used in The X-Files.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    In the internet, you'll find everything. Please don't use that as an argument. :mad:
    But it's "reality":):
    Oh, so it "must be," because a learner's dictionary controls the English language. :rolleyes: I guess reality counts for nothing. Well, believe what you want.
    Does OALD have a separate entry for "positive identification"?
    a separate definition -- yes.
    Also, another OALD example for "identification":
    • Only one witness could make a positive identification.
    Yes, you can use "positive ID" as it was used in The X-Files.
    By which I take it you mean:
    — Who made positive ID on the body?:tick:
    — Lauren Kyte.
    — When did she make the positive ID ?:tick:

    Thank you everybody!
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Sorry, but I don't understand one thing. You say Google, that says mainly "a positive ID", is wrong, the dictionary is wrong. Let's see what Ngram says then: make/made positive ID -- O results. Make/made a positive ID -- a lot of results.:eek:
    Because only one was needed, as Myridon explained.
    I don't understand that either:(
    A positive ID - is a noun. "Finding" is a verb.

    To make a positive ID
    To perform/carry out an autopsy -- isn't it the same? You only need one autopsy too.:eek:
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I don't like to make positive ID (without an article). But you can have positive ID or a positive ID (here the ID is something physical).
    Identification can be a count or non-count noun, but ID is more often a count noun because it does not refer to a process (identification).

    I have no objection to I don't have identification on me, but I much prefer I don't have any ID on me.

    Note that Google ngram is based on written material. What people say is another thing and may well sound odd.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    But you can have positive ID or a positive ID (here the ID is something physical).
    Sorry, but in this case it is not "positive ID", it's just "ID". "Positive" it's used, as I understand, only when a dead body is meant. Am I wrong? And in case of having ID (a document) it can be both countable and uncountable. I'm wondering -- what if these two meanings are sometimes confused, and Mulder did so too?:confused:
     
    Last edited:

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    "Positive" it's used, as I understand, only when a dead body is meant. Am I wrong?
    "Positive" used when it is definite.

    And in case of having ID (a document) it can be both countable and uncountable. I'm wondering -- what if these two meanings are sometimes confused, and Mulder did so too?:confused:
    No, you're mistaken; it can be used uncountably in both senses.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    If we replace ID with identification, we have (meaning who [positively] identified the body? or the informal Who ID'd the body?):
    Who made positive identification of the body?
    Who made a positive identification of the body?


    It would have been much simpler if he had said Who identified the body?
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Some more dictionary examples:

    identification
    [count noun]
    it may be impossible for relatives to make positive identifications
    (Oxford dictionaris)

    • She was unable to make a positive identification of the suspect. (OALD)

    Officials are awaiting positive identification before charging the men with war crimes...
    He's made a formal identification of the body.
    (Cobuild)

    The witness made a positive identification.
    (Longman)

    When it's about carrying out an act of identifying, it's always countable: to make a positive ID.

    In the blue Cobuild's example it's different, and so the uncountable meaning was used.

    And so, Mulder should've used "a". Am I right?
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    And so, Mulder should've used "a". Am I right?
    No, you're still wrong. Take some time and work through the Google Books results for the phrase "made positive identification," and you we see it used that way in a variety of legal cases, in books like Mistaken Identification: The Eyewitness, Psychology and the Law and The Practice of Crime Scene Investigation. Then work through "make positive identification," and read how it is used in Forensic Pathology, Second Edition; Medical Legal Aspects of Medical Records; Handbook of Eyewitness Psychology; and too many others to name.

    I don't know about you, but I'll take the word of professional crime scene investigators and forensic pathologists -- and professional screenwriters -- over "Collins Cobuild," whatever that is. :)
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    But even though:
    "made positive identification" -- 35
    "make positive identification" -- 44
    "made a positive identification" -- 48
    "make a positive identification" -- 148

    And another thing, grammatically it may be "a", but in such contexts it may well just be that the article is just dropped, which may not mean it's really uncountable in "to make a positive identification":confused:
    I don't know about you, but I'll take the word of professional crime scene investigators and forensic pathologists -- and professional screenwriters -- over "Collins Cobuild," whatever that is. :)
    I don't understand the thought:oops:
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    And another thing, grammatically it may be "a", but in such contexts it may well just be that the article is just dropped,
    You think people drop articles in books written in professional prose??

    which may not mean it's really uncountable in "to make a positive identification":confused:
    You're grasping at thin air.

    I don't understand the thought:oops:
    Synthesis: your interpretation of a handful of learners' dictionaries is flawed, and in fact many professionals working and writing in those fields do use the phrase uncountably. This will be my last post on this thread. Believe whatever you want; it's a free country.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    You're grasping at thin air.
    Not so thin:D
    I was also told here (or it was implied) that the uncountable version was the only correct one. Ok -- both are correct. But the countable one -- is much more common (in books and in the internet reality). And I like it more since it's more logical -- to make a positive ID = to make an act of identification.
    your interpretation of a handful of learners' dictionaries is flawed
    Books show how it is used, but dictionaries usually show what is correct.:)
     
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