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In german, we frequently use the phrases such as "...dies erlaubt einem dies/das zu tun ...". In English, I feel that "this allows one to do" sounds clumsy. Are there better, more common constructs to express this?

Examples:

"A lateral displacement error allows one to estimate the capability of path following."

"This tool allows one to calculate the performance of sample applications."

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    "Allows one to do something" is perfectly standard English, and doesn't sound clumsy to a native speaker. – Kate Bunting Feb 17 '17 at 11:03
  • Go on Google and type synonym allow. – Hot Licks Feb 17 '17 at 12:44
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I think "enable" is much better in scientific contexts (which seems to be yours). "Allow" might be more associated with authority, which is the science context does not seem to be right. In effect, the "enabling" feature you are referring usually comes from design, data availability, or theoretical properties of the method under use, and not because of authority related issues.

"This tool enable us to calculate the performance of sample applications."

  • A good synonym, especially as it doesn't readily show up in a thesaurus. While I have heard "allow" and "permit" in a scientific context, "enable" seems to most accurately carry the connotation you suggest. – polarysekt Feb 17 '17 at 13:43
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The lateral displacement error provides an estimate of ....

(Your path following phrasing is problematic.)

This tool is used to calculate sample application performance.

(It's generally not a good idea to translate word for word. Instead, focus on the idea you want to express, and then allow yourself to find a natural way for the idea to come out in the target language.)

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    Thanks for your comments. You actually helped me to find a natural way for the idea to come out. – Frank-Rene Schäfer Feb 18 '17 at 6:09

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