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Should a toggle button show its current state or the state to which it will change?

When a checkbox enables a feature, is it more correct to use Enable [] or Enabled []?

Basically should the tense be present to indicate the what the check action does - checking it enables it - or should it be past to indicate the state of the feature - if it is checked then the feature is enabled?

  • 1
    And we're back to this :). Please see this question and this one. Commented May 20, 2011 at 5:46
  • Ah, yup those answer the question. Didn't find them searching for checkbox tense. If you write that up as an answer, I'll mark it correct.
    – John
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 12:46
  • Glad I could help. I'll just close this one as duplicate. Commented May 23, 2011 at 12:52

2 Answers 2


I would be inclined to use future tense. If a UI element will change an option, it's not in the past, it's in the future, and it also makes sense from a grammatical perspective.

[x] Enable giant lasers
[x] Enable warp drive

Similar to:

[x] Show galaxies
[x] Show constellations

Since a check mark should be used in a form that needs to be submitted, I always thought of that control as specifying the state that will be set when the form is submitted. I know there's no guarantee that it's actually being used that way, but I think it still makes sense. So, use "Enabled" with a check box, and "Enable" on an actual toggle button.

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