Active verbs (was: Basic Voice)

Subject: Active verbs (was: Basic Voice)
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2003 11:02:48 -0500

Several folks have already responded to my statement that active verbs can
substitute for "lets you" statements such as "The fubar function lets you
foul things up beyond all possibility of recovery", which I described as

A quick clarification: I chose that example hastily to illustrate an
alternative approach (saying "fubar fouls things up") to saying "lets you",
not because the example is actually wrong. My bad. The problem with posting
stuff to a list is that you don't have time to let it sit for a day before
you revise it. Here are a few (hopefully) better examples of how choosing an
active verb rather than saying "lets/permits/allows you to..." can
invigorate your message while still communicating clearly:

The unsharp mask function identifies edges within the image (boundaries
between areas with different colors), then sharpens the boundaries between
adjacent image areas by replacing pixels with intermediate colors using
pixels of the darker of the two colors. [Note that I'm not sure exactly how
this function works, so the goal here is to illustrate an explanation of how
a function works rather than to actually explain this function.]

The print function can produce either paper copies or PDF files. [Note that
in this example, I'm using "can" as an alternative to "lets you produce two
kinds of output" to indicate the existence of possibilities.]

The Send Message function will embarrass you at least 1 time in 10 if you
don't take time to edit your messages carefully. <g>

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

"A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful
than a life spent doing nothing."--George Bernard Shaw


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