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large-scale project vs large-scaled project

I’m often quite confused when to use the’-ed” with such words. Is there fundamentally, any difference between “large-scale project” and “large-scaled project”?

Cheers Eva

  • November 22, 2005
  • Posted by eva
  • Filed in Grammar

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The difference, I think, is that "scaled" should be used only to indicate a change in scale. So you could speak about an "upscaled" project, if it's been enlarged from original conception, but only ever a "large-scale" project.

Hope that helps.

pobble November 23, 2005, 6:44am

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Another lazy question,

A project is "of large scale", not "of large scaled".

How would you quantify the project? and don't say you would called it a large scaled project, unless you have already completed it.

alpha&omega November 23, 2005, 3:51pm

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I think people are making up some arbitrary rules here. This is really a lexical problem and not a grammatical one.

When you have a compound word modifying a noun like that, it can be one of several things, including:
* A compound adjective not ending in 'd' that simply describes the noun (e.g., blue-green eyes)
* A verb-turned-adjective that describes the noun as the object of that verb (e.g., an upscaled, down-sized, off-shored, tea-infused, watered-down, David Fincher-directed film). Most verbs can be used for this purpose.
* An adjective that looks like a past-tense (or other-tense) verb but isn't (e.g., an oversized, yellow-bellied, big-headed, able-bodied, mustachioed, undisturbed, deep-voiced, hefty-looking guy). These are only established by convention.
* A compound noun being used as an adjective (e.g., a small-scale, third-world, computer hacker, all-girl, heavy metal, science-fiction, Oracle database team). Any noun that has obvious descriptive qualities can be used in this way.

Which of these your word is, is really up to the dictionary. If you don't have one handy, or it's no in there (because too obscure) you can try to see which one it is with regard to how else you can use it.

If you can use the present tense of the verb with the noun in question as its object, then it's probably the second case. If you can describe the noun in question with the same term using "is", then the term is an adjective. Compare:
* This project is upscaled (wrong)
* This project was upscaled (right)
* We upscaled the project
* This man is bearded (right)
* This man was bearded (wrong, unless you are casually using "this" to refer to the person you are describing in a past-tense context).
* We bearded the man (no!)
* That boy is so punk-rock.
* _That_ is a punk-rock boy.
* We punk-rocked the boy (what?)

Noun-turned-adjectives can often be used in this way, but they tend to sound awkward. Consider:
* This band is heavy metal ("this is a heavy metal band" sound better)
* This project is large-scale ("this is a large-scale project" is usually better).
* This team is computer hacker (just plain wrong. But "this is a computer hacker team" is okay).
* This band is all-girl (no, but "this is an all-girl band" is fine).

This last test is really a barometer of how much of an adjective the noun phrase as become. When it gets far enough, it will usually get an entry in a dictionary. 'Third-world' and 'punk-rock' probably should be in a dictionary as adjectives. Words like the colors (green, black, etc.) get to perform the same sort of double-duty.

Anonymous November 29, 2005, 12:11pm

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Thank you very much the lengthy explanation. Thinking about it further, I think I did not consider if those words in question were actually, merely, adjectives or compound nouns.

I'm sorry, you mentioned this:
If you can use the present tense of the verb with the noun in question as its object, then it's probably the second case. If you can describe the noun in question with the same term using "is", then the term is an adjective.

--> what does the "second case" in your explanation refer to?
So using the example of the large-scale recycling project (again, im sorry).
Large-scale in that sentence is being used as a compound noun, is that right?
And if it was said as "large-scaled" project, it then acts as a compund adjective, right?


eva December 1, 2005, 6:22pm

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Answer: Large-scale project

Eric from Australia December 2, 2005, 7:10am

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It would either be an adjective (like mustachioed), or a verb being used as an adjective (like embedded). But, to my knowledge there is no generally recognized adjective "large-scaled" or verb "large-scale"; I have never seen "large-scaled project", and while such a formation might be developing, I would daresay that most any use of it is simply a misspelling of "large-scale". An exception would be when referring to things that have large scales, such as a "large-scaled mormyrid."

"large-scaled project" gets 273 results on Google (this thread being the topmost one). "Large-scale project", on the other hand, gets 231,000. I'd say that 273 is a small enough number to simply be misspellings of the latter.

Anonymous December 3, 2005, 1:26am

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So the general idea of using the'-ed' is when the project is actually completed, or if the current state of the project has been changed from its original condition. Is this right?

How do these sentences sound?

1a. There is a move towards large-scaled recycling.
( assuming that recycling has been on a smaller scale before)

1b. There is a move towards large-scale recycling.
( meaning that any recycling efforts were absent prior)

2. We foresee a large-scale migration trend over the next couple of years.
( = this trend is new )

EVA November 23, 2005, 4:00pm

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I don't really understand alpha&omega's comment... but sticking with my interpretation: I think it's safe to say that nothing should ever be "large-scaled", only up- or down-scaled, i.e. where the adjective itself suggests a change in scale.

1b: doesn't suggest to me that recycling is completely new, just that now it's likely to take place on a large scale, whether or not it happened before.

1a: if you actually need to say that the scale has increased, I'd rather rephrase it to "...a move to recycling on a larger scale." I think "large-scaled" is plain wrong and I think "upscaled" sounds weird in this instance.

But I can't say that any of this is a hard and fast rule.

pobble November 24, 2005, 4:38am

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Yes     No