I'm trying to ask a question to a student, but I really want to avoid using the phrase "you use". I still want to address the student directly but "you use" just feels awkward and clumsy. The sentence is below:

"Which CSS property should you use to change the color of text?"

Like I said, I want to address the student directly so I wouldn't want something like

"Which CSS property should be used to change the color of text?"

It's also important to note that many kids will be reading this sentence, so I have to use very accessible language. Any suggestions? (Awkward alliteration is a valid concern to have in writing)

  • Have synonyms of "use" been eliminated (e.g. "you employ")?
    – Avon
    Jul 30, 2015 at 18:08
  • 1
    you use seems like the normal phrase, why do you think it's awkward?
    – Barmar
    Jul 30, 2015 at 18:09
  • Unless you rewrite the question, either of your sentences are probably the most succinct way to phrase the question. You could try something like "If you wanted to change the text color, you would use which CSS property?" To me that is not better. Can you be any more forthcoming on why the 2nd sentence isn't suitable for your purposes? Jul 30, 2015 at 18:09
  • I'm trying to establish a very personal feel with my students, so addressing them directly in questions is a stylistic choice I'd like to make consistent throughout my curriculum. I will revise my question to reflect the notion that I'm working with kids so I have to use very accessible language; this means I can't employ words like employ hehe :P Jul 30, 2015 at 18:11

2 Answers 2


I suggest making it more direct.

"Which CSS property changes the color of text?"

  • Oh! I like that, but rather "Which CSS property changes the color of your text?" Jul 30, 2015 at 18:15
  • I asked for something that addresses the student directly so if you change the wording in your answer to "your text" I will accept it. Jul 30, 2015 at 18:33

"You use" is absolutely normal implementation. But it's always good to have different ways of using a phrase.

You can say :

which property should you implement (specific to programming)
which property should you exploit ( more good since a user may be customising to his terms)
which property should you utilize

In different scenarios one of those either fits or doesn't fit.

And again since you are talking about kids as you mentioned.You might want to rephrase your question and still maintain a high level of easiness in understanding by asking:

Which property should you make use of to.....?
Which property should you apply to.....
Which property should be applied to.....
Which property should be used to.....

  • I asked for language accessible by kids. Exploit, implement, and utilize definitely don't fall under that category Jul 30, 2015 at 18:26
  • then you can rephrase it as I did mention.
    – sud007
    Jul 30, 2015 at 18:28

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