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Formulas in sentences

  1. Dec 23, 2012 #1
    I am translating a paper about a general physics question. I am not very familiar with physics other than the historical perspective and I am requesting some help with the grammar. I have a sentence that translates perfectly from the original Spanish as follows:

    “At the moment of t1 at which both objects reach the ground, y1(t1)=y2(t1)=0.”

    In English, a complete sentence requires a subject and a predicate. In the above sentence, the subject would be “y1(t1)”, which I guess I don´t have a problem with. My query is regarding the simple predicate, which in this case would be “=”. All of the English words in this sentence amount to prepositional phrases.

    Is this standard use of language in scientific documents in English? Should I change the sentence to read something like, “The formula y1(t1)=y2(t1)=0 is satisfied at the moment…”?

    Thank you for your time and polite consideration.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 23, 2012 #2


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    I am not a native speaker, but that should be fine.
    "If/When/... [something], a=b" is quite common in mathematics/physics.
  4. Dec 23, 2012 #3
    Thank you.
  5. Dec 23, 2012 #4


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    I would read "=" as a verb, and "y1 = y2 = 0" as shorthand for "y1 equals zero and y2 equals zero."

    I would write the whole sentence as "At time t1 when both objects reach the ground, y1(t1) = y2(t1) = 0".

    The reason for putting the "at time t1..." clause first is to explain what "t1" means before it is used in the equation.

    Otherwise, you would have to write something like "y1(t1) = y2(t1) = 0, where t1 is the time when both objects reach the ground."
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