for example, <a> variable Gender would have <the> categories Male and Female

JJXR

Senior Member
Russian
Hello to all,

Thanks for reading my post.


Source:

STATISTICA Electronic Manual.

Sample sentences:

1. Categorical variables are single variables that contain codes or text values to denote distinct classes; for example, a variable Gender would have the categories Male and Female.

2. Categorical variables are single variables that contain codes or text values to denote distinct classes; for example, variable Gender would have categories Male and Female.

Question:

The bolded articles are used in the original, which is sentence #1. Is it possible to omit them, as in sentence #2? If so, what is the difference in meaning?


Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

Regards,
JJXR
 
  • Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I would only eliminate it if "variable genders" (plural) were being used.

    I still have a hard time using "gender" to mean "sex". It originally only referred to the part of speech in language. I don't know exactly when it became acceptable to use it to mean "male" or "female".
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I'm 100% in agreement with Packard on the sex vs gender question, but in the OP's example "variable" is not an adjective but a noun, so "variable Gender" is not the singular of "variable Genders", but rather it means a variable (in a computer programming sense) whose name is "Gender", hence the capital G.

    To omit "a" here would be incorrect, because the sentence means "If you have a variable {called} "Sex", it could take one of the two possible values "Male" or "Female".
    (I would definitely use "could take {the} values", not "would have {the} categories")
    I would be happy to omit or keep "the".

    I don't know exactly when it became acceptable to use it to mean "male" or "female".
    While sex is the quality of being male or female, gender (applied to persons rather than grammatical entities) is the quality of being masculine or feminine. One is biology, the other psychology.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    The sentence sounds more natural and idiomatic when "the" is included before "categories", but it's perfectly comprehensible without. You can't just leave off "a" before "variable," though you could put "the" instead.

    It's a poor choice of example because it's controversial and a political mire at the present time. I'd suggest this instead:

    for example, a variable Phone Type would have the categories Home, Cell, and Office.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    You can't just leave off "a" before "variable," though you could put "the" instead.
    I would even go further and only use "the". Why is "a" even possible here? It's like "The word gender denotes the fact of being either male or female." But not "A word gender ....":confused:
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    The reason "a" is possible is that it's an example being introduced. The article "a" is often used for new things being introduced into a document or conversation. And several different computer programs could have a variable named "gender" even though there's only one word "gender," so your example isn't equivalent.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    But when we have the pattern "the + some thing + its name", it should alway be "the", shouldn't it? For example:

    the word "she"
    the letter "I"
    the film "Total Recall"
    the song "Yesterday"

    Isn't it the same with "variable"?
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    That only works with proper nouns (movie and song titles) and unique symbols (letters and words). Variables are not like that. That's probably another reason why "Gender" is a poor choice of example.

    I might have a variable "ageRange" in my program that has the categories "0-1, 2-3, 4-6, 7-12, 13-19, 20-50, 51+" and you might have a variable in your program also called "ageRange" that has the categories "0-18,19-21,22-50,50-65,66+" and they're different variables with different categories in them, both named ageRange.

    "If you have a variable 'gender'" means approximately "if you have a variable named 'gender'" -- so it works.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    The other point here is that the variable in question is hypothetical : if we defined a variable (called) Sex it would have the possible values Male and Female. Using “the” variable implies that this variable already exists (or that we have previously introduced it).
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    1. Categorical variables are single variables that contain codes or text values to denote distinct classes; for example, a variable Gender would have the categories Male and Female.

    2. Categorical variables are single variables that contain codes or text values to denote distinct classes; for example, variable Gender would have categories Male and Female.

    Question:

    The bolded articles are used in the original, which is sentence #1. Is it possible to omit them, as in sentence #2? If so, what is the difference in meaning?
    The answer is "no" about omitting "a". Sentence 1 gives an example where you have "a variable" whose name is "Gender". Here "variable" is a countable noun, not an adjective.

    The answer is "no" about omitting "the". In the example, the database variable "Gender" has only the two categories "Male" and "Female". If "the" is omitted, it has those two categories but it may also have other categories. "The" is frequently used in English to imply "only the", and omitted when "only" is not intended.

    Note: The term categories is odd to me. As a programmer I would say "Gender" can be set to one of two values called "Male" and "Female". But maybe that is the whole point: to explain that STATISTICA uses the term categories.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top