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I need to assign a first task to a new employee, a developer. They must configure the computer, install the necessary software, etc. I need to name this task somehow and put it into a report.

Setup work environment

Configure development environment

Both these names/titles seem to be perfectly understandable, but I'm not sure if they are common, idiomatic. Could you please answer? If they are not idiomatic, could you please provide an idiomatic one?

I'm also not sure about articles ("a", "the"). I'd say we shoud use "the":

Setup the work environment

Configure the development environment

On the other hand, is it common not to use articles at all when creating a task in task tracking system or in a report?

  • Single-word setup is a noun - it's not valid as a verb. This difference is also reflected in "real" (spoken) English, in that the noun has stress on the first syllable, whereas the verb has stress on the second syllable. Compare to record a tape / to play a record, to suspect a criminal / to be a suspect. – FumbleFingers Jul 27 at 12:59
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These are fine. With "names" of tasks you often use "headlinese", and drop particles and articles. The main function is that the name should be clear, short and easy to understand and remember, rather than "idiomatic".

As part of a text or in speech, you would normally use "the". It isn't needed as a "headline". However you may want to use a different determiner: "Set up your desktop environment".

On the other hand, as a title, you may just name the task "Desktop environment", since "configure" is implied by the context, and the actual details are specified elsewhere.

  • Thank you for your answer! – embedc Jul 27 at 12:39
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“Setup work environment” and “Configure development environment” are both understandable and idiomatic. The latter emphasizes the new employee’s role as a developer, is more specific, and is thus likely the better choice. Setting up the work environment may suggest other necessary but less important tasks like obtaining office supplies, arranging physical items in the workspace, unpacking personal effects, setting up an account in the company’s time tracking system, and so on.

Titles for tasks in any sort of work queue are understood to be abbreviated summaries. Adding unnecessary verbiage such as articles, flowery adjectives, etc. — and certainly complete sentences — will come across as unrelatable, tiresome, fussy, or persnickety. Keep it short and sweet.

In conversation with the new employee, talking in terms of “setting up your (that is, the employee’s) development environment” or “your work environment” will come across as both natural and friendly. Talking to your new employee about “setting up the environment” will sound distant or standoffish. I used the definite article in the first paragraph in abstract discussion, which is fine because it is distant. Directing the new employee to setup a development environment may be confusing because it suggests the possibility of multiple development environments needing attention.

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