I often struggle in technical articles with whether I should conjugate the verb in incomplete sentences like:

Some options are available:

  • Answering: Result in opening all gates.
  • Ignoring: Switch lights off after two minutes.

In the first case it could be a shortcut for "This results in ...", but in the second case there are multiple possibilities: "To switch lights ...", "This switches lights ...", "You switch lights ...".

I wonder if such form relates to a well known use of the language (which has a name), and/or if some standard rule applies.


If add and ignore refer, for instance, to functions or user interface selections of a computer application, then I would lead the description with the exact verbatim name of the keyword or UI widget, and after a colon, continue with a 3rd person singular simple present verb form like adds or cancels

E.g. IGNORE : cancels all previous or pending ....

That is ideal for a list of commands/functions. Of course this would be adjusted for a sentence in a context of a paragraph. You would still write something like "IGNORE cancels all previous or pending..."

In my examples, the all caps lettering can, in technical documentation for computing, be rendered on a terminal font like Courier for command line apps, or other means of quotation or emphasis for other apps.

  • Thanks, I doesn't relate to computer. I adjusted the example to clarify, so you may want to update your answer. Sorry for that.
    – mins
    Jan 18 at 0:38

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