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I have this sentence:

In our software we ask the user to specify some elements by clicking on the <highlighted / being highlighted / active ...> HTML element

My purpose for the sentence:
Suppose you move the mouse over some elements and the border of each element under the mouse gets highlighted as the mouse enters it.

  • The element is not highlighted before the mouse enters it
  • The element gets highlighted as the mouse enters it

If I say "highlighted element", one can't know if it was highlighted before or it gets highlighted as the mouse enters it.

Which phrase can be used instead of "highlighted" to convey this only-present-not-past-tense relation?

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    "Highlighted". The element is not highlighting, it is being highlighted, thus it is the recipient of the action of highlighting. – JMB Jun 16 '15 at 20:43
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You could say:

In our software we ask user to specify some elements by clicking over the highlighted... HTML element.

highlighted is a modifier of "HTML element".

or

In our software we ask user to specify some elements by highlighting... HTML element.

highlighting is an action. It assumes in this case that you know what to do (such as move the cursor or click the mouse) to make this happen.

For your situation, this option is better since you are referring to an action.

| improve this answer | |
  • @Ahmad: Also, we click on things, not over them. The pointer is positioned over them. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 17 '15 at 12:49
  • @Ahmad: The elements get highlighted or will become highlighted as a result of the user's action. It is not clear in your example whether the mouse button is being held down as the pointer is being moved across the UI objects. Click = press and release. Click-drag = press button, keep button pressed, move the pointer, then release the button. The verb to highlight can be used transitively, BTW, taking (accusative) object. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 17 '15 at 12:54
  • Please read the revised question – Ahmad Jun 17 '15 at 20:24

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