English grammar in physics

• Demystifier
In summary, the correct answer is that Einstein's equation and Newton's law are both correct, but that doesn't seem logical to me. The general rule is that the correct name for a law of a set is the name of the most well-known and commonly used of the laws in that set.

Demystifier

Gold Member
What is correct, Einstein equation or Einstein's equation? Newton law or Newton's law? Allegedly the correct answers are Einstein equation and Newton's law, but that doesn't seem logical to me. What is the general rule?

Useful nucleus
Grammatically should be

' the Einstein equation ' or ' Einstein's equation ' .

' the Newton laws ' or ' Newton's laws '

If referring to a specific law of the set then :

' the second Newton law ' or ' Newton's second law ' or ' the second of Newton's laws ' .

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UsableThought, cnh1995 and Demystifier
Nidum said:
Grammatically should be

' the Einstein equation ' or ' Einstein's equation ' .

' the Newton laws ' or ' Newton's laws '

If referring to a specific law of the set then :

' the second Newton law ' or ' Newton's second law ' or ' the second of Newton's laws ' .
Makes sense, but recently editors in Elsevier changed my "the Newton second law" into "the Newton’s second law". Are they wrong?

Yes - they are wrong .

English grammar mostly works like mathematics .

The (second ( Newton's ( law ))) is not the same as The ( Newton's ( second ( law )))

The first construction means that you refer to Newton's laws and specifically to the second one . This is clear and correct .

The other construction actually means that you refer to second laws and specifically to Newton's one . At best bad grammar but in a more complex reference could cause multiple ambiguities .

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davenn, Useful nucleus, PeroK and 1 other person
Demystifier said:
recently editors in Elsevier changed my "the Newton second law" into "the Newton’s second law". Are they wrong?
Both look wrong to me. Either "Newton's second law" or "the second Newton law". The first is more usual. My impression is that custom dictates "Smith's law" and "the Smith equation", but I don't know if anyone has made this an official rule.
To me, "the second Newton law" implies the second of Newton's laws (as distinct from the first or third); "the Newton second law" implies Newton's second law, as opposed to anyone else's second law (e.g. Mr. Thermodynamics). Or even a law about a quantity with units of N s.
It is definitely bad grammar to put the definite article before an individual's proper name in the genitive. The only example I can immediately think of is "the Young's modulus", which is common usage.

kith and UsableThought
I just got back from a long argument about Green's Functions vs. Green Functions. I wonder what other colors they come in?

I just got back from a long argument about Green's Functions vs. Green Functions. I wonder what other colors they come in?

Green's windmill:

Green windmill:

Demystifier

1. How important is proper English grammar in physics?

Proper English grammar is crucial in physics as it allows for clear and precise communication of ideas and concepts. Inaccurate or incorrect grammar can lead to misunderstandings and errors in calculations.

2. What are some common grammatical mistakes made by scientists in physics?

Some common grammatical mistakes made by scientists in physics include using incorrect verb tenses, subject-verb agreement errors, and misuse of punctuation.

3. How can I improve my English grammar in the context of physics?

One way to improve your English grammar in physics is to practice writing and speaking in English regularly. It is also helpful to read scientific papers and articles written by native English speakers to learn proper grammar usage in the field of physics.

4. Is it necessary to use technical jargon and complex sentence structures in scientific writing?

While technical jargon and complex sentence structures may be common in scientific writing, it is not necessary to use them. It is important to prioritize clarity and simplicity in communication, so using simpler language and sentence structures may be more effective in conveying your ideas.

5. Can I use abbreviations and acronyms in scientific writing?

Yes, abbreviations and acronyms can be used in scientific writing, but they should be defined and introduced to readers before being used. It is also best to avoid using too many abbreviations and acronyms as it can make the writing more difficult to understand.