Accursed Phrases, Part 1

In editing work, I often encounter a sentence like the following:

“Does the system have the capability to do X?”

The phrase “have the capability to” is irritating and unnecessary. There are many variations, including “have the functionality available to” or “support the ability to,” as well as others.

I don’t know why these are becoming pervasive. Perhaps the creator of the document is being paid by the word. Perhaps he or she thinks it sounds more important, or thinks it has more “meaning”.


“Can the system do X?”

It means the same thing, it’s easier to read and understand, and it uses fewer words.

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