English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm confused with the usage of the definite article.

During the development the following tasks were accomplished:

  • Software with a graphical interface was created;

  • [some other things]

I know exactly the software which was developed, and I am writing an annotation for my work. Should I use the before software?

share|improve this question
Difficult to say without more context. For example, are you contrasting software with graphical interface with software without graphical interface? – Barrie England Apr 26 '12 at 17:59
No,I am not contrasting anything. I have made a project and I'm describing it(it consists of several parts,software documentation,etc) – iensen Apr 26 '12 at 18:05
I haven't found an exact duplicate of your question, but the answers in some similar questions apply, and explain various rules; see e.g. Can I start a sentence with a singular noun with no article?, Do I need to use 'the' in this sentence?, When can I omit an indefinite article before a countable noun? – jwpat7 Apr 26 '12 at 18:12
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The simple rule is:

If you had mentioned the particular piece of software in a previous sentence and this sentence is with reference to it, then begin with The.

If not, you are refering to 'some software' and so you will begin with Software.

share|improve this answer
Thanks,it is clear now. It was not mentioned before. I introduce the things i made in my annotation. – iensen Apr 26 '12 at 18:14

The before software is unnecessary (and I think awkward); the before development is unnecessary and awkward; the article a should be added before graphical. Thus:

During development the following tasks were accomplished:
• Software with a graphical interface was created.


During development the following tasks were accomplished:
• Software with graphic interface was created.

share|improve this answer
Thank you. I agree it is awkward. But how can we omit an article if we are talking about an exact object(not one from some generality) and it is not a name or something else like that? Is there any precise rule in English grammar? – iensen Apr 26 '12 at 18:12
"During the development" indicates a software application was (being) developed! So, watchout, the article The is not superfluous. – Kris Apr 26 '12 at 18:14
@Kris, are you suggesting that "During the development" indicates an app was developed, but that "During development" does not? Pray explain why. – jwpat7 Apr 26 '12 at 18:19
Not at all. "During the development" shows that an application software was mentioned earlier, the development of which we are now speaking of. So, if the next sentence is probably about that same piece of s/w, in which case, the article is required. – Kris Apr 26 '12 at 18:29
@Kris, I feel obliged to disagree. See, for example, book refs for during development and during the development. You will observe in the former set usage as in my answer (development as a noun), and in the latter set, with development as an adjective; eg "during the development of gait". – jwpat7 Apr 26 '12 at 18:52

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.