TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
"The dialog appears," is not passive. The dialog is the agent which
performs the appearance. It is intransitive, but it is not passive.
Other pertinent details (such as the computer explanation of WHY the
thing appears) do not change the grammatical sense.
"The dialog is displayed," is passive.
Although I almost never use the passive voice, I still would prefer
either of the above choices to "the system displays the dialog."
But that's personal taste, not purism.
elzinga -at- inference -dot- com
> From: Don M Chaffee <dchaffee -at- WORLD -dot- STD -dot- COM>
> "The dialog box appears" is passive. Dialog boxes don't "appear" as
> though magical. The system or application displays them. I had this rule
> pounded into me by one of the best docos at this end of the galaxy, Hank
> Watters. Also a good boss. Granted, it's a purist's point of view, and as
> you can tell by a couple of sentences in this paragraph even us purists
> don't let it get in the way of our email.