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Instead of the probably correct structure:

Our software XYZ allows the user to resize and modify PNG images.

I'm looking for a way to do it without specifying a person (or people):

Our software XYZ allows to resize and modify PNG images.

Does the latter sound strange for a native English speaker?

Which one is more idiomatic? ("to allow somebody to do something" vs. "to allow to do something")

Is there another way to say it without involving the user with another verb than "allow"?


Note: the goal of the sentence is to list the features of a software product, and here is a French sentence I was trying to translate:

Notre logiciel XYZ permet de redimensionner les images au format PNG et de les modifier.

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    Please don't use such things as sb and sthg on this site. This is not twitter. – 9fyj'j55-8ujfr5yhjky-'tt6yhkjj Jan 23 at 3:36
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    @9fyj'j55-8ujfr5yhjky-'tt6yhkjj This is not "twitter-style", this is a convention used in many reputable dictionaries (paper version, I mean not online ressources, but good book dictionaries). See here: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/allow (or better, see in a book paper version) : "allow sb/sth to do sth. The website allows consumers to compare the prices of all energy and telephone providers." – Basj Jan 23 at 11:48
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    Yes, indeed. Professional linguistics articles use these conventions. And, although there are few of us actually here, the official description says this is site for linguists, among others. – John Lawler Mar 10 at 22:46
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    This is also not a printed book. We don't get charged by the page here, so there's no need to use excessive abbreviations at the cost of readability. – Ilmari Karonen Mar 10 at 23:29
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Hmm, the "ultimate" solution really depends on the kind of material you are translating. For example, is the style more like "advertising" (bragging about it in a single paragraph) or "user manual"?

If it's "advertising" then

Our software XYZ allows PNG image resizing as well as editing.

That follows the "tone" of the original almost 100%

Our software XYZ allows PNG image resizing and editing.

The reason for "editing" instead of "modifying" : it's well known, accepted, usual way of saying it. Many languages don't have good 1-1 translation for "editing" and then they use "modifying".

Our software XYZ makes resizing and editing PNG images easy.

The reason for "makes" and "easy" : because it's advertising :-) You wouldn't be bragging if you didn't think that it makes something easy.

Our software XYZ helps with PNG image resizing and editing.

The reason for "helps with" - to make it less braggy and to avoid "allows" which is too literal. The original is really saying "makes it possible to resize and edit PNG images". So, OK that's another viable variant:

Our software XYZ makes it possible to resize and edit PNG images.

If the style is "user manual", then:

Our software XYZ lets you resize and edit PNG images.

The reason: it's more active, engaging. Creates the atmosphere in which someone is having a conversation with user. Engaging => not dull :-)

  • Thank you very much, you're right, the context (user manual vs advertisement vs ...) is useful here! – Basj Mar 13 at 13:34
  • Typically,software manuals do not use: Our software [je ne sais quoi]. Really not but hey, don't believe me. :) – Lambie Mar 26 at 15:08
  • It has its charm - creates the impression of a boutique shop => it's not a depersonalized product for us and we are not washing our hands if it has bugs. Saw a blurb with Mobile Outlook which talks about "honoring their tradition" :-) => MS is trying to get up close and personal :-)) – ZXX Mar 27 at 22:05
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Your unedited question had a French sentence in it that I interpret as:

Our software XYZ allows the resizing and conversion of PNG images.

Please note that the edit appears to have changed convert to modify, which have different meanings with respect to image files.

To answer the three questions posed above, though...


"Our software XYZ allows to resize and modify PNG images."
Does the latter sound strange for a native English speaker?

This does sound strange, yes. It could be reworded as I wrote above, or you could focus the images depending on the verb tense you desire:

Our software XYZ allows PNG images to be resized and modified.


Which one is more idiomatic? ("to allow somebody to do something" vs. "to allow to do something")

The second one does not strike me as grammatically correct, so the first one is more idiomatic by default.


Is there another way to say it without involving "the user" with another verb than "allow"?

You could use a number of synonyms that would retain the same basic structure of the sentence:

Our software XYZ permits the resizing and conversion of PNG images.
Our software XYZ enables the resizing and conversion of PNG images.
Our software XYZ provides the ability to resize and convert PNG images.

One final note: I don't know the complete context in which this text would belong, but it feels to me like the "Our software" is redundant, and you could probably simply write:

XYZ can convert and resize PNG images.

  • Thank you for the answer/edit. PS: I re-included the French original sentence in question. (PS2: the 'convert' vs. 'modify' images is not important, it was just an example to create a sentence) – Basj Mar 9 at 9:06
  • Yes, all three suggestions are good for permettre. What tough for French speakers are the noun gerunds. They have a hard time with them. :) But one can also do this: Users can or may resize and modify PNG images with this software. Personally, I prefer that structure for English. – Lambie Mar 14 at 19:32
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Almost the same as a couple of other answers:

Our software XYZ supports resizing and modification of PNG images.

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The problem here is due to insisting on using the verb to allow. Saying 'allows the user to resize' sounds awkward because it leaves the impression that the software has some kind of authority to forbid or allow the user to do things, and in this case it mercifully does the latter. This is, presumably, not an impression that one wants to give to potential purchasers of the software. On the other hand 'allows to resize' is syntactically awkward, because it makes one wonder: allows whom/what?

One can avoid the problem entirely by saying that the software makes it possible to resize and modify the images. While the French word permettre is most often translated as to permit or to allow, it is in some contexts, such as this one, better translated as to make possible. (The initially posted version of this question made it clear that it arose in the course of translating a French text.)

  • to make possible is to be avoided. It is very heavy in English and should be used only for cases where x really does make y possible. – Lambie Mar 14 at 19:45
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Instead of using infinitive verbs (i.e. to resize/to modify), you can choose the noun forms "resizing" and "modification", then use these with prepositional phrases. It then sounds natural to use "allows" without mentioning the person/user. It is common in English to rephrase this way.

"Our software XYZ allows (for) resizing and modification of PNG images.",

  • Thank you. Which one is the most common: "allows for resizing ..." or "allows resizing..."? Also what other verb than "allow" is frequently used? – Basj Mar 8 at 13:21
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    another verb choice would be enables. – Hellion Mar 8 at 13:23
  • I would probably use "allows for resizing" with the verb "allows", but the choice is yours. Other verbs you might use are "permits" or "facilitates", but I would not use "for" with these. – user22542 Mar 8 at 13:33
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    Saying that the software allows for resizing can be interpreted to mean that it can handle, accommodate, deal with, take into account, the resizing (that may be done outside the software itself). That is subtly different from the meaning of to allow resizing (without for). – jsw29 Mar 8 at 17:50
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"Our software XYZ allows resizing of PNG images" could be an alternative (without the user). The Oxford Learner's dictionary gives the following meaning for allow: to let somebody/something do something. In this sense allow requires a noun or pronoun after it. So it should be allows the user to resize.

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You may consider the following:

  1. Our software enables resizing and modifying of PNG images.

  2. Our software facilitates resizing and modifying of PNG images.

  3. Our software simplifies resizing and modifying of PNG images.

  4. Our software makes it easier to resize and modify PNG images.

Hope I answered your question.

I recommend the following sites for great grammar info:

http://englishisducksoup.com

http://www.queens-english-society.com

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I would avoid: our software. And I would change the basic sentence structure to:

Users may or can modify and resize PNG images with ABC software.
Users may or can use ABC software to modify and resize PNG images.

[It depends on what you want to say].

I've been translating from French to English for 35 years, that's my reference. The permettre thing can be tricky but changing the sentence structure gets rid of the issue as permettre is not really permits or even allows. It's more enables in the sense of: can or may. Also, it best to focus on what the client (customer) can do with the software.

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