Re: Future tense/using "you"

Subject: Re: Future tense/using "you"
From: Joanna Sheldon <cjs10 -at- CORNELL -dot- EDU>
Date: Sat, 29 Jul 1995 10:36:24 -0400

In response to:

> The yellow indicator light flashes to let you know printing
> is about to begin. If the print job cannot complete, an
> error messages appears in the indicator window on the front
> of the printer.

Karen wrote:

> I am about to nit-pick here, but I see this a lot and it bugs me to no
> the use of the verb
> "complete" as an intransitive verb. AAAAACK! According to every dictionary
> I've ever looked in,
> "complete" is a transitive verb, meaning it requires a direct object. To
> say a "print job cannot
> complete" is incorrect use of the word. And while I dislike passive voice
> as much as the
> next writer, a print job "is completed!"

> Any thoughts, arguments, flames, whatever?

I agree with you in principle. In this case though, we don't need the
passive voice. We could also shorten the sentence just a tad.

The job is not actually completing itself -- it's the printer doing the work
-- so we could say, "If the printer cannot complete the job, an error
message appears in its indicator window" (one would already have pointed out
that the indicator window is on the front of the printer). Or keep the
second half of the sentence as P. has it, and don't worry about the fact
that "printer" gets two mentions in one sentence. Whatever's clearer...


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