What is structured english?

Structured English uses a simple English language to make structured programming easier for non-professionals. The program is divided into various parts that are known as logical statements. These statements are written in a simple English language.

Basis of Structured English

Structured English is based on the structural logic to create a narrative form of English. It uses a series of blocks that are used for indentation, and it uses capitalization to represent the structure of logical specification hierarchically. This method states the rules that are used, and it does not show any other rules or decisions. All the rules are used for an organization or an individual in the situation, where they try to overcome the issues faced because of an ambiguous language. These problems occur because of the actions and conditions that are used for formatting procedures and decisions.

Structured English uses iterations, formulas, or case words to represent decision making. Sequence structures, decision structures, case structures, and iterations are used to express the logical terms in structured English. These can be considered as subsets of English vocabulary that are used to express the procedures that are performed.

Elements of Structured English

Structured English can be considered a pseudo-code, in a limited form. It is made up of various elements.

The order in which the statement is executed is from the first line of code to the last line. Language is mainly made of Conditional blocks and repetition blocks. Keywords such as, IF, END IF, THEN, and ELSE are used to indicate the conditional statements. Additionally, the keywords such as DO, WHILE, and UNTIL are used to indicate repetition statements.

Writing Structured English

The rules that the user has to follow while writing a program are known as the guidelines of the language. Structured English has its own set of content guidelines.

Three blocks of statements that are allowed in the logic statements are operational, repetition, and conditional blocks. The used statements should be readable without any ambiguity. Hierarchy and relationships should be represented while writing the logic blocks. The user is only allowed to use a single line for a unit logical element. To continue a line, a proper indent should be used. Keywords need to be capitalized and comment lines should be marked with an asterisk sign. The words in the data dictionary should be underlined and group blocks can be exited using an EXIT statement.

Structured English is usually preferred when the structured decisions are easy and the logic process involves iterations.

Structured English is typically based on organized instruction, which is nested together as related procedures. Simple English statements such as add, move, and multiply can also be used.

Any word problem can be transformed into a structured English format by using conventional statements such as IF-THEN-ELSE and decisions need to be organized in a proper sequence.

All logic terms must be classified into three types of structures, that is, sequential, case and decision structures. For instance, IF, ELSE, THEN, DO WHILE, DO, PERFORM and, DO UNTIL. The underlined words are the words included in the data dictionary, where they have a reserved and special meaning. Clarification is the key to structured English, where statements should be clarified before the coding stage.

Three basic constructs can be used in every computer program. They are sequence, selection, and looping. Data dictionary chooses the appropriate construct that should be involved in a process. If input and output data contains a series of fields without any iteration, then the data dictionary must contain the statements such as MOVE, SUBTRACT, and ADD.

For instance, a structured English model of a program to calculate the number of computers bought by the consumer is given below

See Number of computers

IF order is from an individual

and-if order is for 3 or more computers

THEN: Discount is 30%

ELSE order is for less than 3 computers

SO: Discount is 10%

ELSE order is from the retailer

AND-IF order is for 100 or above computers

THEN: Discount is 50%

ELSE order is less than 100 computers

SO: Discount is 20%

Structured English usage

Structured English is typically used for expressing logic with minimum complexity. Lower-level systems usually require higher clarity and precision. This is achieved by decision tables and decision trees.

Decision tree

This decision support tool uses a model that resembles a tree-like structure. This structure includes decisions, consequences, cost, resources, and utility. Here, the algorithm is displayed as a form of statements that are condition-controlled.

Operational research and data analysis usually use a decision tree structure. It is an important tool for machine learning. The structure of the decision tree resembles a flow chart, where all the inner nodes are used to represent an attribute, and each branch shows a possible outcome, where the classification rules are represented by the connecting paths. There are three different nodes in a decision tree; each is represented by a particular shape. 

  • Squares represent the decision nodes
  • Circles represent the chance nodes
  • Triangles represent the end nodes
A visual representation of the decision tree.  Different nodes are represented by various shapes. It represents all the inputs and possible outcomes.

Decision tables

The visual representation of the actions to be performed is known as the decision table. They can be translated into any programming language by using the switch case syntax and if-then-else statements.

When a program has numerous conditional statements, along with complicated rules and actions, the programmer can prefer to solve it effectively using decision tables. Four steps are to be followed to create a decision tree. Identifying the conditions is the first and foremost step. Each condition has to be logically analyzed to create an efficient table. Each condition leads to a different outcome, so listing the outcome is an important step. Some actions lead to specific outcomes and the rules that the program should follow while acting. Listing down the actions and the rules is the final step of creating a decision table.

A decision table is a tabular representation of various inputs and the conditions applied to the input parameters. If it has all the possible outcomes of the input variables, it is known as the complete decision table. They are used to display conditions from where the input variables can pass through. Hyphen and blank are used as “Don't care" symbols. Output algorithms can be devised using the decision table. Hence, complicated problems can be logically solved with the use of a decision table.

Advantages of Structured English

Structured English represents logic and relations in a readable format. It is often used as a type of communication tool. It is easy to understand for a wide array of people from various backgrounds. It can make the process of decision analysis easy and efficient.

Context and Applications

The topics of  structured English are followed by the applicants of many courses such as:

  • Bachelor in computer science
  • Masters in computer science
  • Masters in Artificial Intelligence

Practice Problems

Question 1) Which of the following is pseudocode?

  1. Python
  2. Vole
  3. Structured English
  4. Java

Answer- Option c

Explanation- Structured English is a pseudo-code, which does not have a syntax, and hence it cannot be compiled. Pseudocode is intended to explain the code and the flow of the program. Java and python are programming languages. Vole is a machine language.

Question 2) Which of the following is not a keyword in structured English?

  1. IF
  2. THEN
  3. COUT
  4. ELSE

Answer- Option c

Explanation- It is not a keyword. COUT is an output function used in the C++ programming language. A Function has a specific purpose and COUT is used to display the output to the user.

Question 3) What do squares in a decision tree represent?

  1. Start
  2. End
  3. Path
  4. Decision

Answer- Option d

Explanation- Each step of a decision tree is represented by different shapes. Squares represent decision nodes in a decision tree. The decision node contains decision-making data.

Question 4) What does SEI stand for?

  1. Structured English immersion
  2. Statement of English immersion
  3. Structured English initiative
  4. Statement of English initiative

Answer- Option b

Explanation- SEI stands for structured English immersion.

Question 5) What is the main advantage of structured English?

  1. Faster compiling
  2. Smaller file size
  3. Human readable logic
  4. Predefined functions

Answer- Option c

Explanation- Structured English is intended for human logic. It is used to give a human-readable description of the program that defines the input, output, and flow of the code.

Common mistakes

Clarity is the key to structured English. Writing statements that do not clearly state the operation is a common mistake. Following the guidelines is of at most importance. Mistakes as lowercase keywords and ambiguous logic can cause an error. Misplaced indentation in a single step can affect the hierarchy of the logic statements.

The topic of structured English overlaps with SEI educational plan. SEI stands for Structured English immersion. It is a teaching technique that can be used to teach English to English language learners in an easy manner.

  • ESL program models

It is used to focus on language-minority Students, who come from different backgrounds.

  • Bilingual program models

In this type of teaching, instruction is given in the home language of students along with English. These are widely used for a larger number of students from different backgrounds. Teachers need to be proficient in both the languages, that is, English and the primary language of students. It is also known as the Transitional Bilingual education program.

Hence, this overlap should be taken into consideration while taking references regarding the topic.

  • Data dictionary
  • Entity-relationship model
  • Data-flow diagram
  • Decision table
  • Pseudocode
  • SQL and query

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