I've written the following phrase in a technical document:

... the Task is exposed, so it can be waited on

In this context (.NET development), Task is an object instance, and by "waiting on" it, I mean invoking its Wait method, so the execution thread pauses until the task is finished.

Is this correct, given the specific context? Is there a better construct?

Update based on answers/comments received so far:

Essentially, what I mean to say is:

... the Task is exposed, so the caller can wait for it to complete by invoking its Wait() method

...but without the redundancy, and using the method name as the verb.

4 Answers 4


"Wait on" is a recognised phrase, but outside IT it usually has the specific meaning of "being attentive to somebody", as in a waiter.

For the sense you mean, "waiting for" is much more common.

However, in programming "wait on" may be regarded as a technical term, meaning "wait until some resource becomes available". I'm not clear from your explanation whether you mean this, or the converse.

  • 1
    Indeed, the documentation for the Task.Wait method says "Waits for the Task to complete execution.". Considering that, would it be ok to construct the phrase in the way I described? Aug 1, 2011 at 14:02
  • @Diego Mijelshon: It doesn't sound like your usage is standard in the IT context, so I would strongly advise not using it. You'd be much safer using the phrasing commonly used by others - for example, "...so it can enter [or 'be placed in'] a 'wait' state". Aug 1, 2011 at 14:15
  • @FumbleFingers: it's not the task that enters in the "wait" state, but the current thread. Aug 1, 2011 at 14:48
  • @Diego Mijelshon: I never said anything about whether "it" is a thread within a multi-thread process, or a "task". But that makes no difference anyway. If you think the distinction is important, by all means write "the current thread" rather than "it". Just don't say "it" (or whatever) can be "waited on" if you want the meaning to be clear. Aug 1, 2011 at 15:08
  • 1
    @Diego Mijelshon: I don't think we're getting anywhere. You should ask this on programmers.se, rather than dispute usages here with people who mostly aren't programmers. Aug 1, 2011 at 18:06

Is this correct, given the specific context? No, not really, due to the meaning of "waited on" which other users have already explained.

Is there a better construct?

Here are several:

the Task is exposed, so the Wait() method can be used.
the Task is exposed, so the caller can wait for it.


To wait on is to attend to someone, or to serve someone, so it’s a big no. You typically wait for something or someone.

  • 1
    In some American dialects, you wait on, and not wait for. However, standard English uses wait for, and I would recommend using this construction for general audiences, as everybody will understand it. Aug 1, 2011 at 13:46

For the best answer to this question, I suggest you ask somebody who has good command of English and who is also familiar with the type of technical documentation you are writing.

Otherwise, there are too many 'ifs and buts'.

Alternatively, you could formulate a sentence using language closer to that that you are using to describe the meaning of the phrase.

You might come up with something along the lines of:

The Task is exposed, so its Wait method has been invoked.

  • Well, I am hoping to find some fellow developers from Stackoverflow that spend their free time here :-) Aug 1, 2011 at 16:38
  • @Diego: Why not ask there? By limiting the number of people here who can help you, you're not creating a good question
    – user10893
    Aug 1, 2011 at 23:55
  • @simchona: because the answer is about English usage in relation with a programming concept, not programming. But I might ask in programmers.se Aug 2, 2011 at 0:58
  • @Diego: You specifically stated that you want SO members to help. Why don't you ask them? This question has no potential use to anyone other than yourself.
    – user10893
    Aug 2, 2011 at 1:02

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