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Which one of the following is correct?

Instructions given by the Vice Principal on behalf of the Principal for smooth function of the school must be followed by all staff members.

or

Instructions given by the Vice Principal on behalf of the Principal for smooth operation of the school must be followed by all staff members.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Operation is best. The function of a school would mean basically the purpose of the school, which cannot be "smooth". Operation would mean how things go (how the function is accomplished), so the operation of the school is what can and should go "smoothly".

Also see PLL's comment below: functioning instead of function would easily suffice as a substitute for operation in most cases. So your choices are between "operation" and "functioning" here.

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2  
This answer is perfect, but I just want to add that an operation exists to accomplish a function. A function is no more than a purpose or even goal of an organization. –  Jeremy Aug 13 '11 at 12:53
    
How's the edit? –  Daniel Aug 13 '11 at 16:28
2  
This is true, but it’s worth noting that while function is rather different, functioning can be rather more equivalent to operation in meaning, and “…for the smooth functioning of the school…” would be fine and quite idiomatic here. Google Ngrams comparison –  PLL Aug 13 '11 at 17:18

The two words do have distinct meaning, and in this case, operation would be the correct word to use in that context.

The word function describes the intent and purpose of a thing. In the case of a school, the school's "function" is to serve as a place of teaching by the resident staff for the edification of and learning by the resident students. A purpose and intent lacks any real connotation of how well it might actually operate, it is a definition.

The word operation describes the performance and implementation of the function of a thing. In the case of a school, the school's "operation" is the act of teaching the students by the staff. A smoothly operating school performs its function well...a poorly operating school performs its function badly.

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Operation can be used to mean:

  • a business organization; a company
  • an activity in which such an organization is involved
  • a piece of organized and concerted activity involving a number of people

The sentence is referring to an organized activity that involves more than one person; operation is the word that I would use, in this case.

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protected by RegDwigнt Jan 19 '13 at 13:55

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