Re: "Ability" or "allows"

Subject: Re: "Ability" or "allows"
From: "Mark L. Levinson" <mark -at- MEMCO -dot- CO -dot- IL>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 15:43:09 +0200

Tim writes:
But why not "Use this selection to..." or "click here to..."

** I agree with those who say "allows" is too weak. The selection
allows you to, but so do I and so does the neighbor's cat. We
all allow you. None of us has any objection.

But there's a bit of a trap in the "use this to" and "click this
to": the distinction between the compulsory and the optional may
be lost.

Suppose, for example, the reader is following a set of instructions
and step 5 says "Select A to do the A thing. Select B to do the
B thing." The reader may not know whether there's the option of
doing neither, whether there's the option of doing both, or what.
Of course, context is all. I may be a little oversensitive because
one of our manuals once came back from a contractor with every
instance of "You can" and "If you want" deleted...

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