[patch] Spelling fixes

Russ Allbery eagle at eyrie.org
Mon Apr 23 18:53:34 UTC 2018

Christoph Biedl <cbiedl at gmx.de> writes:

> finally I started converting my sloppyly distributed inn2 installations
> into packages. Along the way, Debian's packaging checker reported quite
> a lot of spelling errors, I'm attaching a patch below to change that.
> As I'm not an English speaker: Please check for possible false
> positives. Most prominentely, I'm not really convinced about changing
> "allows to" into "allows one to", same for "permits".

I haven't looked at this in detail, but for the record, that change is
generally correct.  For whatever reason, English doesn't let one say "this
permits to validate control articles" (for instance).  I'm not sure I have
the details of the grammar exactly right, but the way I'd think of it is
that "permits" is a transitive verb that needs some sort of object (some
action to be permitted or some person who is being permitted).  The
infinitive "to validate" can't normally function in English as a noun, so
it can't be the object of a verb.

You have to either say "this permits one to validate control articles" (so
"one" is the person being permitted), or say "this permits validating
control articles" (the gerund phrase "validating control articles" is the
action being permitted).  Or "this permits validation of control
articles," which provides a regular noun object.

"Allows" is indeed the same issue.

As a matter of style, I'd probably prefer "this permits validation of
control articles," since it seems shorter and more direct than "this
permits one to validate control articles."  The "one" there is a sort of
abstract grammatical placeholder that isn't adding much to the meaning of
the sentence.  But that sort of rephrasing is far more of a style thing
than a correctness thing.

Lintian of course can't recommend the last form because there is no
general automated transformation from the infinitive of a verb ("to
validate") to a noun ("validation"), so it recommends the correction
that's the most generally applicable.  It's almost always safe
grammatically to just insert "one," even if it's not great style.

Russ Allbery (eagle at eyrie.org)              <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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