Most of the time I see people use a gerund this way:

The storm caused delays in processing customer orders.

However, sometimes I see something like this too:

The storm caused delays in the processing of customer orders.

Are there any hard rules so we know when to use one way and not the other?

Thank you.

  • Either is fine. There may be subtle differences, but they would not be relevant in the context described. – Hot Licks Jul 24 '16 at 14:11
  • @HotLicks What may those differences be? – user52139 Jul 25 '16 at 14:53
  • It would be hard to work out the differences without knowing the context. – Hot Licks Jul 25 '16 at 18:01
  • The general sense of the difference is that "the processing of customer orders" refers to the system and its capabilities. "Processing customer orders" refers to the actual customer orders. – fixer1234 Feb 28 '17 at 23:07

While I agree with the "subtlety" explanation there is also a not so "subtle" distinction. The first example states that the action occurred --- sort of a "in real-time' situation. The second example of usage is the way to state a condition (specific plan, situation, action, etc.) whether it has, is, or will occur. It is calling attention to the generic or collective nature of said action, in the same way as "going to the movies" can be information about your evening vs. "going to the movies" being a collective pastime.

  • Welcome to ELU. This site is meant to provide objective answers. Can you substantiate your claim of the difference between the two? Please have a look at the Help Center to find out more about good answers. – Helmar Jul 24 '16 at 20:45

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