Re: on "CAN", was Old thread, hopefully new spin on "allow"

Subject: Re: on "CAN", was Old thread, hopefully new spin on "allow"
From: Harry Hager <hhager -at- dttus -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, christi -at- sageinst -dot- COM
Date: 10 Mar 2000 13:58:10 -0600


Christi,

Yes, you are correct.

Obviously, I was being too general in my statements about "can." I
guess I should change my earlier statement to say something like "Each
time you use 'can' try deleting the 'can' from your sentence and if it
does not change the meaning of your sentence, leave it out."

Also, it might be a quirk of my writing that the "can" word seems to
creep in where it's not really needed.

Again, I'm probably getting in deeper than I can defend adequately but
it seems that if you need to express options or possibilities, "can"
is appropriate. However, if you are expressing an imperative (?) (Do
it now.), eliminate the "can."

H. Jim Hager
hhager -at- dttus -dot- com





______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: on "CAN", was Old thread, hopefully new spin on "allow" v."e
Author: christi -at- sageinst -dot- COM at Internet-USA
Date: 3/10/00 1:20 PM


> "CAN"
>
> One more thought: I do not use the word "can" anywhere in my
> documentation, as in "You can select the xxx command to xxx, You can
> click the xxx button to xxx." In these cases "can" is not needed and
> really adds nothing to the sentence, it's just an extra word. You do
> not change the meaning of these examples if you eliminate "can."

For the most part, I agreed with the email in regard to using or not using
"let" and "use". However, in regard to "can", I think there are sometimes
when you want to tell users what they can do.

Three examples:

1. You can change the circuit being tested without exiting and reentering
the BlahTest module.

2. In Monitor mode, you can check the status of the circuit to be tested
without interrupting the circuit or transmitting test data.

3. Using these measurements, you can verify the digital integrity of one or
several DS0s in a digital facility.

Rewritten:

1. <not sure how to rewrite the first one>

2. In Monitor mode, check the status of the circuit to be tested without
interrupting the circuit or transmitting test data.

3. Using these measurements, verify the digital integrity of one or several
DS0s in a digital facility.


The second set have different meanings to the reading. I'm having trouble
expressing the difference understandably in written format, but I think it
is obvious that they have different implications for the reader. I think
"can" is acceptable when that is really what you mean.
\

Christi Carew
Technical Writer

christi -at- sageinst -dot- com
p. 831-761-6565
f. 831-761-2452

Sage Instruments
240 Airport Blvd.
Freedom, CA 95019
www.sageinst.com

If you can't explain it to an 8-year-old, you don't understand it.
-Albert Einstein




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