I can’t be the only person on the whole Internet who hates the phrase “allows you to” as part of a software description. Can I?

And yet, a Googling of “hates the phrase allows you to” brings up nothing, as do any number of less specific variations.

I don’t know why I hate this phrase exactly. But I’ve been assembling marketing materials for a bunch of different software products and in doing this I started to notice how often the phrase is used, and once I started to notice, it really started to bug me.

Is it just the laziness? Because, I swear, if you’re not paying attention, every single feature will end up described as “the blabbity blah will allow you to blabbity bleck.”

Or is it the remote, lofty quality of the word “allow”? It seems to imply that the software is my sovereign, and it is only by its whim that I am allowed to do thus and such.

Or is it the vague, jargony nature of the phrase? I mean, we don’t tend to write, “this hammer allows you to hit nails and other objects,” do we? “Allows you to” seems very software-specific. In other contexts it seems like we’re more likely to say, “with x you can do y” instead of “x allows you to do y.” Or you might write, “in order to do y, you need x.” Or, “to do y, get some/an x.” Or, “x does y.” (See, I’ve been brainstorming alternatives all day.)

I suppose I don’t expect others to share my exciting new obsession, but I would be interested in finding out — is ANYONE ELSE out there as bugged by “allows you to” as I am?


  1. I’m bothered by the use of the word “from” as in “from $18.50.”

    It’s kind of a similar sentence structure issue, I suppose. But I can’t come up with a good alternative. As an ad designer I just shy away from all situations that might lead to using that jargon.

    Anyway, it’s more effective copy writing practice to focus on commanding the reader to do things.

    So instead of saying “Allows you to pound nails good!” it would be better to cut it down to “Pound nails good!”

    Or instead of saying, “From $18.50” it would actually be better to expand it to “Spend as little as $18.50.”

    1. But I do kind of like the idea of a software package that just outright and says it:

      “This program will permit you to pound nails good.”

    2. I hate ALL frameworks that state the lowest price. I always get people who flip their shit that their ink cartridge refill was $14.99 instead of $12.49


      1. Yeah, I hear ya.

        Most ads should focus on the reason for spending money, not on how little money you’ll think you need to spend.

        1. I don’t care if they say how little – it’s just that I wish it’d be clearly marked. :\

  2. I’d never noticed it in software language.

    I suspect I will now, though. Haha!

  3. I’m bothered by ALL CAPS. 8)
    But then, you’re bothered by smileys.

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