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Lauren wrote: '"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 understand how "Click the widget to begin" can be anything but
imperative, second-person writing. The implied subject is the reader.
How could it be interpreted as "[The user] click the widget to begin"?
From: techwr-l-bounces+cvickery=arenasolutions -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+cvickery=arenasolutions -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com]
On Behalf Of Lauren
Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 11:51 AM
To: 'McLauchlan, Kevin'; baj357 -at- gmail -dot- com; techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Grammar Q
> From: McLauchlan, Kevin
> > I've seen documents written with phrases such as, "use this
> > 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
> > keeping the document effective and comfortable to read. I don't see
> > "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
my examples with and without "you" (the word, not the target of the
instruction). I do not have issues with imperative writing and the
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"
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,
are first, second, and third persons respectively.
I don't interpret imperative writing as second-person focused, which
mean that the document was written for me, the reader. When I am a
of documents, I am usually an editor and I am thinking about the user of
document. In my head, I fill in the blank with "the user," a third
So for me, the document is sometimes third-person imperative. This is
how I write. I don't know the grammatical terms for my writing
although, for me, "second-person imperative" is a misnomer.
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