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I have an interface which limits users' access. I want to write a phrase that expresses it differently.

Here is what I come up with

The interface offers the option to pick which ones* to authorize client access.

ones refers to clients. I feel that the sentence is not right, as I'm not sure if the usage of "to authorize" is correct.

Looking for feedback on this; different formulation are certainly welcome!

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closed as too localized by RegDwigнt Aug 5 '12 at 21:35

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I would say something like, "The interface gives clients options that determine their user access." or "The interface allows clients to choose an option that determines their level of access." or "The interface tailors the user access based on the option the client chooses." –  JLG Aug 5 '12 at 13:33

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The title you give to your question seems to indicate that you are confusing the two roles of to:

the infinitive marker

a preposition (often used in idioms where it is not easily definable semantically)

Making your sentence a little less complicated, to illustrate:

We want / need to allow client access to certain documents.

Want and need, as is the case with some other similar verbs, may be used in catenative constructions with other verbs:

I want to go. He needs to ask. He seems to think so.

These verbs require the 'to-infinitive' rather than the 'bare infinitive', the base form of the verb (actually, need can be used with the base form in some situations).

Help and dare may be used in some situations with either the to-infinitive or the bare infinitive:

he didn't dare to go / he didn't dare go

she helped to wash up / she helped wash up

dare you go? /*dare you to go?

In your sentence, to authorize is a to-infinitive, as is my to allow.

However, my sentence also contains access to certain documents, where to is a preposition. It forms a collocation with access (we always would say access to rather than access for, or access over, the documents).

Omitting the preposition to from my sentence leaves:

** We want / need to allow client access certain documents.* (access of course is still a noun here) It is obvious in this example that the preposition to is required; this is also true for your example, though inserting it at the end of the sentence results in a correct but clumsy-sounding sentence:

The interface offers the option to pick which ones to authorize client access to.

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You authorize access for somebody and to something. So "... which ones to authorize client access for," which is unfortunately a rather unwieldy sentence. –  Peter Shor Aug 5 '12 at 20:47

There's a lot missing from your context:

  1. Who does the interface offer the option to?

  2. By "users" do you also mean "clients?"


The interface offers the option to pick which ones to authorize client access.

Let's make it simple by substituting the word "clients" in your sentence:

The interface offers the option to pick which clients to authorize client access.

If I understand your situation correctly, there's a redundancy in your sentence that needs to be removed. This way:

  • The interface offers the option to pick which clients to authorize.

  • The interface offers the option to pick which clients to give access to.

It would depend a lot on your context, but you should keep in mind that the word "client" must be the object that receives the action of whatever verb you put inside the infinitive.

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