Experiment: something that you do to see how well or how badly it works

< Previous | Next >
Hello everyone,

Does the word "experiment" (= something that is done as a test: something that you do to see how well or how badly it works - Merriam-Webster) + "make" sound natural/correct in the examples I made below?

a. [Two mothers talking about their children]: Jane, we're making an experiment at home. We're letting our children play videogames only when they get good grades at school. And their grades have been improving.
b. Let's make an experiment. We'll only take John to the amusement park if he behaves at school.

Thank you in advance!
 
  • RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Yes, "do" sounds natural because these are not actual scientific experiments. There's no control group, an experiment involving one subject (person) is not statistically valid, etc. Typically in a situation like this people are sincere but they use "experiment" with a slight irony or humor.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thank you for your answer.

    So, does "experiment" sound natural/correct in the O.P if I use "do" in informal conversation and "perform" (formal)?

    Thank you in advance!
    I say things like that all the time, so I'm going to say yes. :D Actually in B, now that I think about it, I might very well say "Let's try an experiment."

    Crossposted with RedwoodGrove.
     
    Last edited:

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Yes, "do" sounds natural because these are not actual scientific experiments. There's no control group, an experiment involving one subject (person) is not statistically valid, etc. Typically in a situation like this people are sincere but they use "experiment" with a slight irony or humor.
    I think that is a narrow (sub) definition, specifically of a "rigorous" or "scientific" experiment designed to prove a hypothesis with some statistical power - and your restrictions, while good scientifically, are too restrictive linguistically:) Control groups and statistical power assessment etc distinguish a good experiment from a bad one. The word experiment has broader, less "scientific" usage : from the WRF* "an attempt at something new or different; an effort to be original" - as in experimental cuisine or theatre. It doesn't have to be scientfic to be an experiment:) If you are not trying to prove a hypothesis, you just want to know what happens when, for exampe, you mix chemicals A and B, we can still call that an experiment. I would agree, however, that the more scientific the aim or conduct, the more likely one is to use the word "perform":)

    *That is from the Collins dictionary but I would be a bit surprised if AE and BE differed much on the usage of this word:)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top