1

I wrote:

The user can trace the extraction algorithm (to / until / until reaching / until it reaches) a specific node. The algorithm traverses the nodes of the DOM-tree top-down (to / to reach / until to reach / until reaching / until it reaches) the highlighted node and evaluates the context variables belonging to the visited nodes and show their values to the user.

Which of the words in parentheses are acceptable in the sentence above?

  • Here is a situation where I would suggest the passive. The extraction algorithm can be traced by the user from the top of the DOM-tree down to a specific node. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 10 '16 at 10:27
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It really depends on what precisely you're trying to say and what you want to emphasize.

The user can trace the extraction algorithm (to / until / until reaching / until it reaches) a specific node.

There's a subject-verb semantic mismatch here. The user doesn't (transitively) trace the algorithm, but rather its progress or output. Alternatively, they might run a trace on it. All of your choices are appropriate except until reaching (another semantic mismatch), and they also all convey the same general meaning of following up to a certain point and then stopping. There are a few subtle differences, though...

  • To is terse and has more of a sense of finality than the others
  • Until suggests a span of time or progress, and it also conveys the idea of the user's interacting with the program while it runs more strongly than to
  • Until it reaches grants the algorithm more emphasis and agency

The algorithm traverses the nodes of the DOM-tree top-down (to / to reach / until to reach / until reaching / until it reaches) the highlighted node

Here there's no semantic issues, because it's correct to say the algorithm traverses nodes. Until to reach is not grammatical; you use a noun or a clause as a target of a preposition, not a bare infinitive.

I would use until, because it seems like your focus is the process - traversing - so you want to describe what happens during the time it takes to complete. However, if you want to focus on the end goal of the algorithm, then use to.

  • To versus to reach - emphasis on the node itself versus emphasis on the goal of finding it
  • Until reaching versus until it reaches - emphasis on the progress or traversal versus emphasis on the algorithm or its agency

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