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.

This is my all-time question. This time, I was writing specifications of my application and came up with this question. Which one of the following is more commonly used than the others? Note that I'm talking about a case without a relative pronoun.

  • When a user logs in for the first time, the user has 6 invitations remaining

  • When a user logs in for the first time, the one has 6 invitations remaining

  • When a user logs in for the first time, one has 6 invitations remaining

  • When a user logs in for the first time, he/she has 6 invitations remaining

  • When a user logs in for the first time, he has 6 invitations remaining

Or, any other suggestions to get the sentence more natural?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You forgot the most obvious version — and the most commonly heard:

  • When a user logs in for the first time, they have six invitations left.
share|improve this answer
2  
Yes, they is most appropriate here. But I also have a problem with the tense used in the dependent clause. It needs to be future tense as in: When a user logs in for the first time, they will have six invitations available. –  Jim Jun 15 '12 at 5:13
1  
Agree with you about they, but not about the tense. It's a difference of emphasis/perspective. e.g. "When an asteroid approaches a star, its path is deflected." vs. "When an asteroid approaches a star, its path will be deflected." #1 is describing the rules of the universe, which never change, and #2 is telling a story about the rules of the universe playing out in a specific, albeit hypothetical, instance. SUBTLE, yes, but I think either is appropriate for the OP's situation. –  leoger Jun 15 '12 at 7:45

If your goal is to describe a sequence of events, you could say "After a user has logged in, they may invite up to 6 other people," but personally, I think a better approach is to describe what users of the system can do, without requiring a sequence of events. Most readers understand that logging in is a requirement for using a computer system.

share|improve this answer
    
such as: "Each user may invite 6 people." –  Zac Brown Jun 15 '12 at 2:03
    
My goal is to know which pronoun is to replace single antecedent. Not writing a decent sentence to describe how to use my application because my writings are notations in programing code to define behaviors of programming code. Since my question may lead misunderstanding, I will fix it. –  suzukimilanpaak Jun 15 '12 at 2:11
    
I see, I thought "any other suggestions to get the sentence more natural" meant you were open to suggestion. I would say "He/she can invite..." or "They can invite..." (but I won't type the rest of your sentence, since it has other issues). hint: what is remaining? –  Steve H. Jun 15 '12 at 2:16
    
Oh sorry. A user of my application initially has got limitation of number of people one can invite. –  suzukimilanpaak Jun 15 '12 at 2:24
1  
Oh, then you mean the user has 6 invitations remaining. Ok, good luck! –  Steve H. Jun 15 '12 at 2:25

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.