variable

jokaec

Senior Member
Chinese - Hong Kong
1) Don't trust him. He is variable. Last time, he changed his mind many times for when to go for a trip.
2) This thing about if this customer wants to see us is still variable. Don't book your hotel until he agree to see us.

Can I use "variable" for both person and thing which are uncertain or easy to chang? Thank you!
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    No. Idiomatically, variable (adj.) is not used predicatively of people - it us usually used of objects.

    Variable is used to mean
    (i) "able to be varied, altered, changed" and suggest that someone can vary the object without much difficulty. "The loudness of the radio is variable - you can change it with this button."
    (ii) susceptible to change: "Don't go to England in February; the weather is very variable."
     

    jokaec

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    No. Idiomatically, variable (adj.) is not used predicatively of people - it us usually used of objects.

    Variable is used to mean
    (i) "able to be varied, altered, changed" and suggest that someone can vary the object without much difficulty. "The loudness of the radio is variable - you can change it with this button."
    (ii) susceptible to change: "Don't go to England in February; the weather is very variable."
    Thank you, PaulQ.
    Do you mean my first sentence is incorrect but the second one is correct?
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    "Fickle" works for the first instance of variable and is probably the word that I would choose.

    From Merriam-Webster

    Fickle
    marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability : given to erratic changeableness
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Your second sentence is not correct, nor is that a normal way to express that idea in English.
    I agree. And I am not sure at all what he is trying to say in that sentence. He will have to re-write it before I will be able to comment.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    In the second sentence, I'd say that the customer's plans are still undecided, undetermined, or "up in the air." If there are no plans, there is nothing to change.
     

    jokaec

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    In the second sentence, I'd say that the customer's plans are still undecided, undetermined, or "up in the air." If there are no plans, there is nothing to change.
    Th decision if the customer wants to see us is variable. Does it sound bettet and correct?
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    It is uncertain that the customer will visit us; do not book the hotel until then have come in.

    Optionally:

    We have to be certain that the customer will not change his plans. He has changed his mind many times in the past.
     
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