I am writing a software manual. Can I use the phrase

You will be prompted with a dialog.

I found some uses of this form and it, for me, means that I will be shown the dialog, a bit like You will encounter a dialog. That last bit sounds more like Jurassic Park though, so I don't really like it for some dialog in a software.

Most examples I found however were more assignments to do something like:

You will be prompted to enter a number.

Is prompted with valid and does it mean what I think it means?

  • I can see the probable reason for your hesitancy in using 'prompted by', with its strong flavour of agency rather than instrumentality. Though instances of 'prompted with a' on Google are outnumbered about 7 : 1 by instances of 'prompted by a', I'd say there enough to license the choice. Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 10:49

2 Answers 2


A computer prompt is a signal that the running program requires user input. Probably from a combination of the meanings "to cause to act":

Runaway inflation prompted the government to impose price controls

and "supply a cue to continue"

"Or not to be" he prompted the forgetful actor.

The google finds numerous uses of "prompted with," "prompted by," "prompted for," and "prompted to."

"You will encounter" sounds a bit to me like a random event. I think "prompt" is the better choice.

Is that what you thought it meant?

  • I think the explaination, that it stems from the computer-related term prompt is quite reasonable. A colleague who proof-read my parts (we are all non-native speakers) thought it had to be used in combination with some action (hence the "prompted to do sth."). But it seems much more diverse in terms of its actual usage and I can leave it as it is. Thanks.
    – Jens
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 11:18

I agree with your concern about "prompted with a dialog". So if you want to do a very nice job with this manual, I would suggest something like

A dialog box will come up prompting you for xxx

However, people will understand what you put in your draft, and much worse things have appeared in countless user manuals, even those written by native speakers.

  • Thank you for your input. This indeed sounds nice and I think I'll use it in some places.
    – Jens
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 19:46

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