RE: Grammar Q

Subject: RE: Grammar Q
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: "'McLauchlan, Kevin'" <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com>, <baj357 -at- gmail -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2008 11:50:57 -0800

> From: McLauchlan, Kevin

> > I've seen documents written with phrases such as, "use this
> procedure
> when
> > you need to access the system," but the use of "you" in
> these cases is
> > unnecessary because the phrase still works without "when
> you need." I
> > prefer to say what needs to be said with the fewest words possible
> while
> > keeping the document effective and comfortable to read. I don't see
> where
> > "you" is necessary to improve documentation and, for me, it
> makes the
> > writing more uncomfortable to read.
>
> You are using it anyway.
> When you say "Do X.", the "you" is implied.
>

I *am* discussing the explicit use of the word "you," hence the quotes and
my examples with and without "you" (the word, not the target of the
instruction). I do not have issues with imperative writing and the unstated
target, who can be interpreted by the reader as "you," "the service
technician," "the author," or "the sop that got stuck with the job." My
discussion is specifically focused on the use of the word "you." "You" is
not necessary in documentation.

Although some grammarians here refer to the "second-person imperative,"
absence of an explicit "person" can be interpreted as first, second, or
third person, since *no* person is even referenced.

"Click the widget to begin," can be interpreted as "____ must click the
widget to begin." "_____" can be the author, the reader, or the user, who
are first, second, and third persons respectively.

I don't interpret imperative writing as second-person focused, which would
mean that the document was written for me, the reader. When I am a reader
of documents, I am usually an editor and I am thinking about the user of the
document. In my head, I fill in the blank with "the user," a third person.
So for me, the document is sometimes third-person imperative. This is also
how I write. I don't know the grammatical terms for my writing preferences,
although, for me, "second-person imperative" is a misnomer.

Lauren

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References:
RE: Grammar Q: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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