This has been bugging me for a while but throughout our company technical documents there's regular use of this type of sentence: The (user interface component) displays.

Displays being the important word. For example: 'The Color Picker displays.' or 'The popup window displays.'. Meaning that it appears.

Now this is fine grammatically (the sentence has a subject and a verb), but it feels wrong. Perhaps it's the ambiguity caused by 'display' also being a noun (more obviously seen in 'The window displays.').

Perhaps it's also that 'displays' tend to prefix a noun in this context. Such as 'The florist displays flowers'.

Is there a grammatical rule that having 'displays' at the end of a sentence is breaking? Or is just poor style? Or perhaps it's absolutely fine. Grateful for advice.

  • 1
    The technical term here is using "display" as an intransitive verb. This certainly happens (peacocks frequently display), but whether it is 'correct' may depend on how and where it is used. Apr 26, 2018 at 18:03
  • This would annoy me, too. It’s hard to suppress the little voice that says "Displays what?!". Presumably it displays itself, but it’s not making the same effort as a peacock, so surely it’s just "appearing"? Or "opening"?
    – Pam
    Apr 26, 2018 at 18:08
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    Perhaps the writers of documentation which uses this phrase are trying to avoid the passive voice because so many style guides and word processing packages object to it very strongly. In this case the passive voice ("the xxxx form is displayed") is entirely appropriate but falls foul of the passive voice vendetta.
    – BoldBen
    Apr 26, 2018 at 18:14
  • Why, exactly, would it be a problem to use something like “The (component) appears” or “… is displayed”, please? Apr 29, 2018 at 21:10


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