1

I am writing a technical how-to manual on a hardware/software system, and I've written the following phrase:

"To avoid taking up unnecessary storage space on your computer, ..."

Looking back at it, I know it's technically incorrect, since "unnecessary" is describing the storage space, not the act of "taking up."

I know I could say,

"To avoid unnecessarily taking up storage space on your computer,..."

but that carries a slightly different connotation, implying that taking up any storage space (related to the product or not) may be unnecessary. The first version, although definitely wrong, definitely provides the correct idea.

0

3 Answers 3

1

"To avoid taking up more storage space than necessary on your computer..." seems to get the right idea across.

1
  • Ah, this is a fairly concise way of clarifying this. Thanks, Nicole! Apr 29, 2015 at 19:42
1
  • "To avoid taking up unnecessary storage space on your computer, ..." Looking back at it, I know it's technically incorrect, since "unnecessary" is describing the storage space, not the act of "taking up."

It's also incorrect as it could be useful for other applications, etc.

Alternative:

"To avoid wasting storage space on your computer,..."

1

Your concern with the noun phrase unnecessary storage space is misguided and there is nothing wrong with the complete phrase at all.

Take the following examples:

  1. To avoid using unnecessary storage space, all empty boxes and crates are to be discarded.

  2. To avoid taking up unnecessary storage space, all beach balls are to be deflated before packing.

  3. To avoid having unnecessary storage space, our water rationing procedures allow for your immediate needs for one week plus 25 percent to cover other requirements.

  4. To avoid using unnecessary storage space, the archiving of all computer files is to follow a strict procedure to avoid unnecessary copies. This includes a working copy and only one archival backup.

Unnecessary storage space is a perfectly understandable expression in these statements.

The notion that unused space isn't really unnecessary because it might be used for something else could be in conflict with some resource managers. Unnecessary resources have a cost (money, time, energy,...) associated with them. Aircraft and spacecraft designers understand this. An office manager understands this. The person in the household who pays the bills understands this.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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