Suggestion to use contracted terms in titles (of a book or something) to make them shorter (not too long):

Prefer contracted terms to keep titles short.

Does the selected phrase sound natural?

  • 1
    Maybe it's just me, but I don't much like seeing the verb prefer used in an imperative construction (with assumed but unstated subject you). I'd prefer to see Use contracted terms [in order] to keep titles short. – FumbleFingers Jun 2 at 12:23
  • Thank you for this comment! What if I change the sentence like this: Prefer contracted terms to uncontracted ones. Is it still less "attractive" that using something like "Better use ... than ..."?) – embedc Jun 2 at 13:51
  • You can change it as much as you like - it'll still be syntactically valid, but I still won't like it for the reason given above. And although it might be tedious to dig out the relevant usage statistics from something like Google Books, I'm absolutely certain that use will be far more common than prefer in imperative constructions - even after allowing for the fact that to use is a more common verb than to prefer in general. You can make whichever stylistic choice you want; I'm just pointing out that prefer wouldn't be my choice here. – FumbleFingers Jun 2 at 14:13
  • The grammar of the phrase only sounds natural if it is a title. If it's not a title, then it's using phrasing appropriate for a title in an inappropriate way. The overall grammar aside, I agree with the other comments: prefer is awkward—even in a title. You can't instruct somebody to prefer something, only to do something or to choose something or to use something. – Jason Bassford Jun 3 at 3:30

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