Recently someone posted the attached screen shot on the internal self hosting alias.
What’s wrong with this English?
It’s the use of “Can” instead of “May”. This happens to be one of my minor pet peeves with common English usage. The difference between “Can” and “May” can be quite subtle and most people don’t catch it. “Can” reflects the ability to do something, “May” requests permission to do something.
To use my kids as an example, a dialog with them might go something like:
“Dad, can I go to the store?” “Absolutely you can – it’s just down the street, so it’s not a big deal.”
“Dad, may I go to the store?” “No you may not, without a parent accompanying you.”
The first question asks if the kid asking has the ability to go to the store – of course they do, it’s nearby. The second question asks permission to go to the store.
In this dialog’s case, the prompt is asking if Windows has the ability to collect more information. Of course Windows has the ability to collect more information. It’s asking permission to collect more information, so the correct prompt should be “May Windows collect more information about this problem?”.
Unfortunately I didn’t notice this until yesterday, so it’s too late get this fixed for Vista, but it’ll be fixed in a subsequent release. And it’s going to annoy the heck out of me every time I see it (which shouldn’t be that often :->).
Edit: Fixed typo pointed out by Peter Ritchie (I love the power of the edit button to make me look less stupid) 🙂