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misty123's avatar

Grammar question : Difference between these sentences.

Asked by misty123 (407points) January 10th, 2013


Can anyone tell me the exact difference between these sentences:

1. For selecting the new file, you need to open the desired folder.

2. For selecting the new file, you would need to open the desired folder.

3. For selecting the new file, you should open the desired folder.

4. For selecting the new file, you would have to open the desired folder.

5. For selecting the new file, you would need to have to open the desired folder.

What is the exact difference?

Please help me out.

Thanks in advance.

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14 Answers

Seek's avatar

First of all, they should all begin ”To select the new file,...

“For selecting the new file” makes little sense.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Unnecessary verbage? Making things too complicated?

To select the new file, open the folder.

zensky's avatar

Modal verbs are often inter-changeable and synonymous.

Number five is incorrect, though.

Here is the best website for grammar. Enjoy

misty123's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr : “For selecting the new file” – doesn’t work at all? Is it incorrect to say or can it be understood?

zensky's avatar

Use the infinitive plus object To Select. Not Selecting.


glacial's avatar

The first four are technically correct, but use “To select the new file”, and because of the type of information being communicated, be more direct. So, to borrow from both @Seek_Kolinahr and @KNOWITALL:

To select the new file, first open the desired folder.

“For selecting the new file” is not something anyone would ever say. It gives the impression that English is not the writer’s first language.

misty123's avatar

@zensky : I will take a detailed look at it. Thank you.

gasman's avatar

I agree with the first two answers: minimal wording:
“To select the new file, open the (desired) folder.”
I speak for users everywhere, lol.

I’d also check whether “a” is a better choice of article than “the” to describe file &/or folder in this context.

Here’s my take on the 5 given statements:
1. ” need to open…” Probably closest to desired meaning.
2. ”...would need to…” Wrongly implies that needing to open the folder is conditional rather than absolute: You DO need to…
3. ”...should…” Still an unnecessary word & sometimes regarded as harsh & preachy.
4. ”...would have to…” Same comment as 2.
5. ”...would need to have to…” Redundant. “need to” and “have to” are practically synonymous here. Also same comment as 2.

CWOTUS's avatar

Even with the suggestions above, which are mostly good as far as wording goes, the instructions are confusing.

In computer parlance, one doesn’t generally “select” a “new file”. The “new file” is a new creation, so it’s not a “file open” selection, but a “file save” operation.


To save the newly created file, select and open the folder where it should reside, then save the file with a unique name.

Otherwise, if it’s a file that already exists, there is no way for a user to know whether it really exists where he thinks (or not) unless he opens the folder where he expects to find it. So in that sense the instructions are superfluous.

It’s like telling someone to inhale before they exhale; the one operation naturally and necessarily follows the other.

glacial's avatar

@CWOTUS Yes, I wondered about this, too. If the point is to teach someone how to select a file, one wouldn’t begin by telling them to open a folder, which requires that they already know how to select a folder.

Of course, it might just be a sentence for the sake of teaching/learning grammar, in which case I suppose it doesn’t really matter.

gasman's avatar

@CWOTUS Yes, if the UI is well designed there should be minimal need for written help such as this—most actions will be implicit and clear to the user using zero words! Not that pop-up instructions for the hopelessly confused shouldn’t be available as well…

misty123's avatar

@gasman @CWOTUS :Thank you for sharing your insights. Your answers are very very helpful.

rojo's avatar

Evidently six people can.

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