EDUCE Overview Copyright 2009 Nikolas S. Boyd.
All rights reserved.

Normal Pronoun

Intent

Use an appropriate indefinite pronoun to indicate that an object (or a subject) is a member of a collection.

Motivation

Casual conversational English uses indefinite pronouns with both singular and plural significance when referring to collections. However, indefinite pronouns with singular significance are preferable for conceptual models.

Applicability

Use an indefinite pronoun with singular significance when

Considerations

Object-oriented designs focus on relationships and collaborations between individuals. Object-oriented designs often use a basic metonymy as a source of design components: a single instance represents an entire category or class of individuals. So, a statement about a single individual is applied to all the instances of a class. Thus, object-oriented designers often use sentence subjects and objects as candidates for class names.

Because object-oriented designs pay special attention to instances, conceptual models also focus on individuals, especially those established as a singular subject or a singular object. So, while some indefinite pronouns may have plural significance (all, both, many, several, ...), convert them to the corresponding pronouns that have singular significance (every, either, each, ...). The following table offers suggestions for such correspondences and conversions:

plural singular plural singular
all every, no, none most each
any every, no, none several each
both either, neither many each
other another certain each
few each some each

Consequences

Note that some serves as the preferred pronoun for indicating indeterminate cardinality, i.e., for zero or more instances. You can use an indefinite article (a or an) to indicate an instance of a class. Reserve the definite article (the) to indicate that the subject truly has only one instance within the discussion domain. You can also use a limiting adjective to explicitly indicate the cardinality of a relationship.