operate an appliance

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epistolario

Senior Member
Tagalog
If you know how to handle (push the right buttons at the right time) an electronic device like a DVD player, microwave oven, washing machine, dishwasher, etc., is the word operate commonly used to describe this ability?

For example:

Dad bought a dishwasher but I don't know how to operate it. Do you know someone who can?

Is it correct? Is it applied in both formal and informal conversations? Thanks.
 
  • liliput

    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Yes, we can say "operate", and also "use". Colloquially, people say "work";
    "I don't know how to work it", but this is probably not very good English.
    "I don't know how it works" is common and grammatically correct.
    "Operate" is a bit formal/technical.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The problem is actually your following question. Do you know someone who can? does not mean "Do you know someone who can operate it?" Instead, in this position, the "can" refers to the main verb in the preceding sentence, and thus means "Do you know someone who can know how to operate it? I don't think this is what you mean; you are not looking for someone who can know how to operate it, but instead are looking for someone who does know how to operate it. Thus, the word you want is "does":

    Dad bought a dishwaher but I don't know how to operate it. Do you know someone who does?
     
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