active, passive, and ... commanding

Paul W. Frields stickster at
Wed Jul 12 13:15:59 UTC 2006

On Tue, 2006-07-11 at 19:28 -0700, Tommy Reynolds wrote:
> Uttered Karsten Wade <kwade at>, spake thus:
> > Ah, my favorite part of documentation mailing lists, the grammar
> > debates. :)
> How can there be debate when I am right?
> > Once you accept that, you quickly find that you never need the passive
> > voice.  Even to avoid awkward sentence structure.  If you want to say
> > that something "will happen", it either "is going to happen" or "might
> > happen."
> +1
> > But the commanding voice examples such as, "You will click the OK
> > button," actually is more confusing than commanding.
> Agreed. We are not Micro$oft to command our users...
> I once worked for a company whose standard was that all titles must
> be gerund phrases ("Opening A File") on the theory the gerund for
> relates to a specific task or action, thus avoiding the document
> becoming a littany of feature descriptions and bullet lists.  After
> all, every feature is provided to accomplish a given task, no?
> However, this makes for exceedingly ugly documents and I don't like
> the grund rule but I do like their focus on tasks and not features.
> Use cases of the world, unite!

Titles are the only location for gerunds that don't immediately cause me
to think of ways to remove the gerund.  But it's nice to get rid of them
there too, +1.

Paul W. Frields, RHCE                
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