Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the proper way to use "employment" with the "use" meaning?

I.e. if I have a new computer program/tool, can I say "employment of the tool", or create a webpage named "Employment of the BLABLA program", describing how and in what cases one should properly use it.

Or this is an unusual context for the word?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 0 down vote accepted

If you are using the word 'employ' in terms of giving somebody a job then sure we usually use it in relation to people. However, if you are using the word 'employ' in the sense of 'make use of' then you can use it in relation to something other than a person.

If employ has two definitions (one being to give someone a job and the other being to make use of) and we say that we can only use it for people then we're barely acknowledging the second sense of the word which really would be used with things in most cases, e.g. 'A good writer employs a range of literary techniques...'

So "Employment of the BLABLA program" is perfectly correct. However, there is more to language than correctness. Does it flow? Does it sound funny? Could you write something more effective?

I'm not sure exactly what the sentence is describing but perhaps you could try a few synonyms or slightly different words which describe the situation. For instance (depending on the circumstances) perhaps you could say something like some of the following: 'Implementation of the BLABLA program' (I realised implementation is not the same as employment but depending on the context it may be that a slightly different word is more suitable anwyay); 'The BLABLA Program in Practice'; 'through the BLABLA program' (if it's not a title but in a sentence)

Anyway, my sentence examples probably aren't that useful because I would need to know more information about what you want to say but hopefully that helps somehow just by telling you that there might be a nicer sounding alternative. Having said that, the 'employment' of the word 'employment' is not confined to talking about people. As I said, if it was only intended for people, when would we ever use the word employ in its other sense? (The brother employed his sister to ask for lollies... - in fact this sense of the word isn't necessarily that suited to people at all. You employ skills, techniques, strategies, programmes...)

I hope that helps sorry for harping on :-)

share|improve this answer
    
Rachel, thank you for the very informative answer! I was sharing your opinion that there is more about language before posting this. Your examples (employing techniques) sounds very similar to what I'm trying to say. "How to properly use the tool, in what conditions and where to get it". But it seems that the "Employment of the BLABLA program" is somehow unclear and I was told about it. It looks like I shall find better title. –  Riga Feb 2 '12 at 8:57
    
If you like my answer shouldn't you mark it as the correct answer or something? :-) I'm glad to be of help and yes finding a better title is a good idea. Sometimes we find a word and we want to hang onto it and we realise it's holding us back. It's better sometimes to let it go and find a different word. –  Rachel Feb 4 '12 at 17:31
    
Here you are, @Rachel! As you've just written, I hang onto the "employment" and still it seems to me that it suites. Maybe its just mу feeling that the "use" is overloaded with meanings and usages in such a way that it can't reflect any special connotations. No one in this topic has pointed me to the apparent defference between synonyms "use" and "employment" so far. But I have no real experience in everyday spoken English to truly catch it. –  Riga Feb 4 '12 at 21:08

Employment is normally applied to people, not things, although the verb employ is probably more versatile.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you, Barrie! Then should I say "use" instead to express what I want to say? Or there is another good synonym? –  Riga Feb 1 '12 at 7:55
    
@Riga: I'm always cautious about saying what people 'should' say when I don't know any more about the text than the little that can be provided in a question. Much depends on the purpose of the text and who will be reading it. That's why I include the word 'normally'. With that qualification, I'd say use 'use' unless you know of a good reason not to. –  Barrie England Feb 1 '12 at 7:59
    
thank you for the comment! What is the good reason to use "employment" as "making use of" in your opinion? My page is for people (engineers) that want to learn how to be able to run my program and how to run it properly and with what restrictions. –  Riga Feb 2 '12 at 9:11
    
@Riga: I can't at the moment think of any cases where 'use' would not serve just as well. –  Barrie England Feb 2 '12 at 9:49

If you are talking about "the way something is used" the word "usage" is better.

correct / proper usage

If you are talking about "making use of" something, "employment could be used. This sense of "employment" is quite formal E.g

Employment of the chorus in Tragedy

Metaphysical employment of language

But always remember the term "employment" usually carries connotation of "people" and "working activity" and has common usage in this way.

share|improve this answer
    
thank you! I meant "making use of". From your comment I see that my initial variant is good, but this connotation of "people" as you said, confuse some people. I was trying to understand if this confusion is legal and should I avoid it or not. –  Riga Feb 2 '12 at 9:01

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.