Accountants Debating Semantics? Accountants Debating Semantics

Do people accuse you of getting worked up over petty annoyances and you fear that no one understands your suffering? Email us your questions, complaints, and concerns so that we may make your world a better place.

I have a question to the accounting world at large regarding vocab. What is preferred: analytic or analytical? After a little google research, I found they are interchangeable, however I prefer to run an "analytic," whereas my colleague always tries to correct me with "analytical." Preferences?
Based on your question, you must be one of those rare accounting creatures that is concerned about written communication. I realize your existence is a lonely one, so it's good of you to reach out.
 
First of all, let it be known that I am not an expert in English or any other language and I do not pretend to be. I leave that level of expertise to art-school-drop-outs-turned-CPA-exam-mavens. That's the beauty of this exercise – you ask us something, we answer it in best/worst way we can. I'm sure there are people out there that will gleefully point out all my typos and grammatical errors and find evidence to contradict my conclusions but again, it's the beauty of the exercise. Now, your question.
 
It's worth noting that, in this instance, you are treating these two words as nouns. Wiktionary doesn't even recognize either word – analytic, analytical – as such (neither does Merriam-Webster). Just for the sake of argument, let's say these two words are nouns (they aren't). Through some terrible English magic they either became nouns as derivatives of the noun "analysis" or the verb "analyze." Most wordsmiths will tell you that verbs rule the roost when it comes to parts of speech. Turning a verb (adjective or another noun) into a "zombie noun," as Helen Sword likes to call them, is a "nominalization" and she writes that they are popular with academics, lawyers, bureaucrats, and business writers. So you and your colleague debating the preference of two nominalizations "analytic" or "analytical" is a perfect example of why business writing is so often dreadful to read. 
 
ANYWAY. You say, "[M]y colleague always tries to correct me with 'analytical,' " as if (s)he is some kind of authority on the subject. The two words, when you ignore the fact that they are being used incorrectly, seem interchangeable (If not, I'd like to hear the explanation) so for this know-it-all to insist that "analytical" is correct over "analytic" is DUMB. I'll side with you in this case purely to spite your colleague.
 
You ask if there is a preference and my personal preference would be that if you insist on using either "analytic" or "analytical" that they be followed by the noun "procedure" OR the word "analysis" be used instead. 
 
Glad we settled that.

Have something to add to this story? Give us a shout by email, Twitter, or text/call the tipline at 202-505-8885. As always, all tips are anonymous.

Related articles

Which Audit Firm Got Fired the Most In Q3?

Earlier this month Accounting Today reported the latest data from Audit Analytics on public company audit client gains and losses for the third quarter, with Florida-based CPA firm Assurance Dimensions picking up nine new ones thanks to an acquisition. Among firms you’ll usually see in SEC or PCAOB enforcement orders, Marcum and Deloitte were the […]