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  1. #1
    onepac is offline Newbie
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    Default Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

    Hi, im my company we are writing a software manual and we have a doubt. First, I'll write the phrase

    2.1 Enter a new participant
    If a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session

    What this phrase means is "if there is a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session". I think that the right way to write it is the second one, because the first one doesn't have any sense because there is no verb.

    My colleague says that in manuals you can omit the verb but I don't think that is correct, because without the verb the sentence doesn't have no meaning to me.

    Is that phrase right? Con we omit the verb?

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

    Quote Originally Posted by onepac View Post
    Hi, im my company we are writing a software manual and we have a doubt. First, I'll write the phrase

    2.1 Enter a new participant
    If a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session

    What this phrase means is "if there is a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session". I think that the right way to write it is the second one, because the first one doesn't have any sense because there is no verb.

    My colleague says that in manuals you can omit the verb but I don't think that is correct, because without the verb the sentence doesn't have no any meaning to me.

    Is that phrase right? Con we omit the verb?
    The first one (labelled 2.1) does have a verb - 'enter'.
    The second (unlabelled) sentence is missing a verb in the first phrase.
    If you mean "if there is a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session" why not write:
    "If there are new participants, include them in the database before starting the session."

  3. #3
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

    Your colleague is right. Instruction manuals omit unnecessary words for the sake of brevity. In your example the verb is 'you should include'.

    I would even expect 'you should' to have been omitted.

    Rover

  4. #4
    onepac is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

    Thanks Raymott,

    I think that your option is better and the one I prefer, but my colleague says that is correct to omit the verb "is" or "there is" in that phrase, but I don't see the meaning of the starting phrase "If a new participant". What I wanted to know is, is it right to write the phrase like that, with the "If a new participant"?

  5. #5
    onepac is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

    Thanks Rover,

    The problem is not wit the "you should" (I agree that we can omit that), the problem is that there is no verb at the starting phrase and I don't find correct to write "If a new participant" that my collegaue says it's right

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

    Quote Originally Posted by onepac View Post
    Thanks Raymott,

    I think that your option is better and the one I prefer, but my colleague says that is correct to omit the verb "is" or "there is" in that phrase, but I don't see the meaning of the starting phrase "If a new participant". What I wanted to know is, is it right to write the phrase like that, with the "If a new participant"?
    NO, it is not correct. No native English person would write that - because it doesn't imply 'If there is a new participant'. It could mean "If a new participant complains ..." or anything.
    Having said that, it's better than the ambiguity of entering a new participant.

  7. #7
    onepac is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    NO, it is not correct. No native English person would write that - because it doesn't imply 'If there is a new participant'. It could mean "If a new participant complains ..." or anything.
    Having said that, it's better than the ambiguity of entering a new participant.
    What would you suggest to resolve the ambiguity of "Enter a new paticipant"? If it helps, what we mean here is to introduce a new participant into the database, but we thought that "Enter a new participant" was shorter for the manual

  8. #8
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    Your colleague is right. Instruction manuals omit unnecessary words for the sake of brevity. In your example the verb is 'you should include'.

    I would even expect 'you should' to have been omitted.

    Rover
    Quite so; 'omit unnecessary' words. In my nearly 20 years as a technical writer I found that confusion about technical informetion was often caused by omission of words that were necessary (and, of course, the inclusion of words that weren't ) But in the sentence 'If a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session', 'If a new participant' is dangling unless it means 'if you are a new participant' .

    I'd say 'Make sure any new participants are in the database before you start the session.'

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 11-Feb-2013 at 15:04. Reason: Clarification

  9. #9
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Omitting a verb (Manual redaction)

    If a new participant, you should include it in the database before starting the session

    I would certainly read "If a new participant" to mean if I was a new participant.

    It's not clear what "it" means here either.



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