Re: Active verbs (was: Basic Voice)

Subject: Re: Active verbs (was: Basic Voice)
From: Peter Gold <peter -at- highsoft -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 10:30:14 -0600

A problem I have with "you can" is that writers often use it as a general description, instead of an informative one. For example, "You can use this <whatever> to do <something general>." "You can import information from another file by choosing MenuName > MenuSubItem," is OK for me.

"You may" vary your mileage by applying different criteria.<G>


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On Thursday, February 13, 2003, at 09:13 AM, Lisa Kemp wrote:

Does this argument include the "you can" construction? This construction
doesn't indicate permission (as "you may" would). We often use this
construction to avoid the wordy and less direct "allows you to"

-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Gold [mailto:peter -at- highsoft -dot- com]
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2003 10:00 AM
Subject: Re: Active verbs (was: Basic Voice)

So long ago that I've completely forgotten its name, I read a book on
technical writing, that succinctly stated Chris' point here, namely that
users do things and technical publications shouldn't suggest that users
have to obtain permission from a computing system or component - what
Chris refers to as "CSF".

I think one issue in this discussion is the difference between the
familiar voice of conversation or discussion, vs. a writer's voice in
written documentation. It's common in US conversation, to use phrases that
include "lets," "enables," etc. I'm not sure other languages have this
convention. Written communication, designed for wider audiences than
participants in a conversation, has different requirements. This
difference is one aspect of evaluating one's audience, especially for
written material that will be translated to other languages.


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RE: Active verbs (was: Basic Voice): From: Lisa Kemp

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