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I proofread technical documents that have been translated from Japanese into English. The translations must be "literal." I cannot, generally, make them more concise. One thing that pops up over and over are the dreaded -ing words. I can make the argument that a phrase should be changed if the construction makes it difficult to understand.

Here is an example "For separating connector A and connector B, the worker first must......"

My gut and all my writing baggage really want it to say "In order to separate..." but I cannot articulate why. Can someone point me to a concise explanation that would make sense to non-native speakers?

Feel free to tell me this is a "happy" to "glad" change and I will attempt to stop sweating it.

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1 Answer 1

Invert the sentence to parse it.

The worker first must engage the wedge for separating connector A and connector B.

In that sentence, "the wedge for separating" becomes an adjective phrase. That means there's a wedge for separating but there's also a wedge for cutting, meaning it's another of the same object but it does a different task. I don't think that's what you want.

I'd use "to separate" instead of "In order to separate," which might be a happy medium between the exact translation and your version.

Inverted:

The worker first must engage the wedge to separate connector A and connector B.

Actual translation:

To separate connector A and connector B, the worker first must engage the wedge.

This makes it clear that there's only one wedge, and its job is only to separate two things.

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