1. This attachment guides insertion of paper into a printer.
  2. This tool guides insertion of a thread through a needle hole.

I cannot find this type of usage of "guide" in dictionaries, but can find it on the internet. Is this usage correct?

  • What dictionaries did you consult to find the meaning and usage of the verb guide? I find it defined in dozens of them. Note also that in technical manuals (which are often written by non-English speakers) the articles are often omitted. The first sentence should be interpreted as "This attachment guides the insertion of paper..." Jul 28 '17 at 21:07
  • I consulted a lot of dictionaries including Longman, Collins, and Oxford. They show that "guide" has the meaning of helping someone or something to move in a particular direction. So, I think paper can be guided, but insertion cannot be guided.
    – rama9
    Jul 28 '17 at 21:23
  • Why do you think insertion can't be guided? It's a noun (just like paper is) and means "the act of inserting something".
    – stangdon
    Jul 28 '17 at 21:58

It is important to understand that a correct usage is any usage that can be understood by most native English speakers. In the case of your examples, both would be easily understood, and that makes them "correct"!

The examples and definitions provided in a dictionary are not meant to be exclusive. The usages provided are not the only usages. The examples are provided as hints to present the ways in which a given word can be used. In the case of the transitive sense of the verb guide, the definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:

  1. to act as a guide to : direct in a way or course • He guided us around the city.

  2. a. : to direct, supervise, or influence usually to a particular end • You'll need a lawyer to guide you through the legal system.
    b. : to superintend the training or instruction of • A respected educator guided his studies.

To guide, then, means to direct in a purposeful way. We say:

guide a thread through the eye of a needle

...but we could also say that we

guide the insertion of the thread into the eye of the needle.

One of the examples in the M-W entry is:

He claims that there were unknown forces guiding the outcome of the election.

Compare this with your first example:

This attachment guides [the] insertion of paper into a printer.

Here, guide means direct:

This attachment directs [the] insertion of paper into a printer.

Always consult multiple dictionaries and read multiple example sentences when you are learning a new word in English. We recommend the OneLook aggregator as a good place to start.

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