I am learning this post, whose title is "Checking for existing SSH keys".

Checking for existing SSH keys

Before you generate an SSH key, you can check to see if you have any existing SSH keys.

Note: DSA keys were deprecated in OpenSSH 7.0. If your operating system uses OpenSSH, you'll need to use an alternate type of key when setting up SSH, such as an RSA key. For instance, if your operating system is MacOS Sierra, you can set up SSH using an RSA key.

Is it grammatical, idiomatic and clear if I simplify that to "Check existing SSH keys"?


Disclaimer: I don't know anything about SSH keys.

  1. Checking for existing SSH keys
  2. Check existing SSH keys

They mean two different things.

Check for something roughly means look/search for something. So 1. roughly means looking for SSH keys. In other words, you don't know if any exist, but you are going to look/search and find out.

In 2., without for, you assume/know there exists SSH keys (at least one) and you are going to check them. Here, check roughly means examine, inspect, assess, etc. In other words, 2. roughly means examine existing SSH keys.


Your example phrase is a section header (headline). If you say:

Checking for existing SSH keys


Checking for keys

It means “the following chapter is about checking for keys.” The reader will expect to learn about the checking, perhaps whether or not to do it, or how and when to do it.”

If you say:

Check for existing SSH keys


Check for keys

It may be interpreted as the imperative: “You need to check for keys, and the following chapter shows you how you should do it.”

It suggests (implies) that checking is necessary, and this is the chapter that describes how to do it.

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