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Technical Writers’ Companion

People allow things, but things enable people.

Use allow when you mean permit or consent to. Also use allow when you mean to allocate a certain amount.

Use enable when you mean provide the means or power, or make something possible or easy. In this case, it’s often better to use can or let.

Yes:

You’re allowed to make one backup copy of the program.

Yes:

The trial version of the program allows you to create only documents that have 3 pages or less.

Yes:

Leaving some space in the drum allows for expansion of the liquid when the liquid is hot.

No:

This program allows you to hack your competitor’s web site.

Yes:

This program enables you to hack your competitor’s web site.

Top:

With this program, you can hack your competitor’s web site.

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