If I want my reader to press a button continuously for five seconds, then release the button, can I write "Hold the button for five seconds"; or, must I be more explicit and write "Press and hold the button for five seconds".

My argument for "hold the button for five seconds" is that in the context that I am using the term. It would be impossible for the reader to carry the button in their hand, it would also be reasonable to assume that the reader would not need to detain or embrace the button.

If you read "hold the button for five seconds" are you pressing the button or are you hovering your hand over the button?

  • 2
    I would just just write press the button for five seconds. I don't see how that could be misinterpreted. But there is no rule for this, so the choice is yours. May 13, 2020 at 3:38
  • 5
    Hold is the common term, but adding 'hold the button down for ...' seals your meaning. May 13, 2020 at 3:52

1 Answer 1


That sounds unidiomatic. You could say "Hold the button down for five seconds," but "Press the button for five seconds" would also work.

  • The problem is that your answer is only an expression of an opinion, and anyone who is not a native English speaker (and of course this question should not be posted or answered here but on ELL) has no way of knowing whether or not it is correct. The way to answer a question of this type is to consult and quote an interface guide from the likes of Apple, where a great deal of effort has been put into producing clear recommendations, which are likely to have widespread adoption in mobile applications. This is not a game for amateurs.
    – David
    Jun 7, 2021 at 19:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.