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Do they have almost the same meaning?

hirashin

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Hello, native english speakers,

I have a question.

Do all the three sentences have almost the samemeaning?
(a) The natto bacilli in the straw increase, producing a sticky substance .

(b) The natto bacilli in the straw increase and produce a sticky substance .

(c) While the natto bacilli in the straw increase, they produce a sticky substance.

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
 

lincstreff

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Yes, the sentences all have approximately the same meaning, but there is a problem with the English.
The word "increase" used by itself is usually understood to mean "to become bigger in size". That is not what is meant in these sentences, though. You mean to say "increase in number".
Furthermore, when discussing bacteria, "multiply" or "grow" are better words to use. In these sentences, I recommend replacing "increase" with either "multiply" or "grow", or even "multiply and grow".
 

WonkoTheSane

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Yes, the sentences all have approximately the same meaning, but there is a problem with the English.
The word "increase" used by itself is usually understood to mean "to become bigger in size". That is not what is meant in these sentences, though. You mean to say "increase in number".
Furthermore, when discussing bacteria, "multiply" or "grow" are better words to use. In these sentences, I recommend replacing "increase" with either "multiply" or "grow", or even "multiply and grow".
I disagree. I automatically hear the implied numerical aspect.

What I did find jarring was the use of increase instead of increases in the first two sentences.
 

indojindesu

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I'm sorry for intruding, I'm not a native speaker so I'm not sure if I'm 100% correct, but "natto bacilli in the straw increase" sounds fine to me.
Because bacilli stands for many Bacillus organisms, hence its, a plural word (?).
If it was one Bacillus then "increases" would have sounded fine.
Or, if the word "population" was used as in : Natto bacilli population increases - then it sounds fine.

I am sorry if I made any mistakes or if this is not correct. We usually use bacilli increase, etc , when we are talking about micro organisms in our lab.
 

Majestic

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I, too, find the word "increase" to be unexpected, and therefore I have to go back to the somewhat unusual word "bacilli" to reconcile the plural and sort the sentence out in my mind. This is my way of saying all three of the above posters are correct. To my mind, the best, least confusing way to say this would be;

(b) The natto bacilli in the straw multiply and produce a sticky substance .

This doesn't mean a) or c) are incorrect, but a) requires me to stop a second and think what word "increase" applies to. Multiply carries a stronger nuance of "propagate" or "reproduce", so it seems a better choice than increase. But this is a subjective, editorial decision.

c) gets somewhat technical as it implies the sticky substance is produced only when the bacteria are multiplying. It makes me think that the sticky substance doesn't appear if the number of bacteria are stable, or when the number is decreasing, so I prefer "b".

Maybe this is far more info than Hirashin wanted, but I think he/she likes to know the details, so hopefully it is useful.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for your helpful and informative comments, mdchachi, lincstreff, Wonkothe Sane, indojindesu, and Majestic.

I still don't understand how you use the verb "increase". Would you please judge if these sentences sound fine ?
(a2) The number of natto bacilli in the straw increase, producing a sticky substance .
(a3) The natto bacilli in the straw increase in number, producing a sticky substance .
(b2) The number of natto bacilli in the straw increase and produce a sticky substance .
(b3) The natto bacilli in the straw increase in number and produce a sticky substance .
(c2) While the number of natto bacilli in the straw increase, they produce a sticky substance.
(c3) While the natto bacilli in the straw increase in number, they produce a sticky substance.

I've heard that sentences like (d) or (f) sound strange. Is that true?
(d1) Traffic accidents are increasing these days.
(e1) Cars in the world are increasing.

How about these?
(d2) The number of traffic accidents are increasing these days.
(d3) Traffic accidents are increasing in number these days.
(e2) The number of cars in the world are increasing.
(e3) Cars in the world are increasing in number.

Majestic, would the verb multiply mean almost the same as "increase in number"?  

Hirashin
 

Majestic

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Sorry, maybe we're all making this too difficult. "Increase" is fine.
For me, bacili is an unusual word - it isn't used in everyday conversation. It is correct and valid, but it doesn't come into my daily conversation. When I read your sentence "a" I skim over the word bacilli, not immediately realizing it is the plural of bacillus. Then, when I get to the verb "increase" it seems strange. It almost looks like it goes with the word "straw", so in my mind I think, "what is a straw increase"? . I have to reread the sentence to understand that increase goes with bacilli.

Paradoxically, changing it to "increases" solves this problem. In my mind I immediately realize it is linked to the word bacilli - even though it is in conflict with the plural word bacilli. I think maybe Wonko and I are in agreement on this. It sounds right, but it is, in fact, wrong (as Indojindesu correctly pointed out).

Regarding the word multiply, it seems to be more appropriate when talking about propagation, breeding, procreation, etc... Maybe it feels more appropriate because it hints at exponential increase, rather than a simple addition, or linear increase. So when you are talking about bacteria, you are probably talking about exponential increase, rather than just the addition of one or two bacterium.
 

Majestic

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(a2) The number of natto bacilli in the straw increase, producing a sticky substance .
Number is singular, so you need to use increases..
(a3) The natto bacilli in the straw increase in number, producing a sticky substance .
Fine
(b2) The number of natto bacilli in the straw increase and produce a sticky substance .
Again, there is disagreement between number (singular) and increase (plural).
(b3) The natto bacilli in the straw increase in number and produce a sticky substance .
Fine
(c2) While the number of natto bacilli in the straw increase, they produce a sticky substance.
Again, disagreement between singular and plural.
(c3) While the natto bacilli in the straw increase in number, they produce a sticky substance.
Fine

I've heard that sentences like (d) or (f) sound strange. Is that true?
(d1) Traffic accidents are increasing these days.
Fine. Some people might prefer to say The number of traffic accidents is increasing. A question of style, more than grammar.
(e1) Cars in the world are increasing.
This indeed sounds strange to me - I would prefer The number of cars is increasing.


How about these?
(d2) The number of traffic accidents are increasing these days.
Again, number is singular, so is increasing.
(d3) Traffic accidents are increasing in number these days.
Fine
(e2) The number of cars in the world are increasing.
are > is
(e3) Cars in the world are increasing in number.
Fine
 

indojindesu

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Majestic has explained the concept far better than I ever could, so I'l just click the agree and like button on his post! :D
 

hirashin

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Thank you very much for the detailed explanation, Majestic. I appreciate it.
 
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