Here is a sentence similar to the one in the text I'm proofreading right now: Groundwork for (the) development and implementation of my cunning plan.

The text is very formal and there're multiple instances of this "the" that to me appears to be doing nothing but the author is so insistent that I have lost my certainty :-) Googling gives no definite confirmation of whether I'm to take it out or leave it be so I decided to try and ask for advice. Should the definite article be used with nouns denoting process in formal texts and circumstances?

2 Answers 2


Considering that the phrase 'development and implementation' is strictly correlated to your 'cunning plan', I would use 'the' before that. However, without 'the' it is still semantically correct.

Collins English Dictionary defines an articles as "a kind of determiner, occurring in many languages including English, that lacks independent meaning but may serve to indicate the specificity of reference of the noun phrase with which it occurs".

I am sure you remember that the definite article is 'the' and the indefinite articles are 'a' or 'an'; nevertheless, when speaking in very general terms, 'the' can be used instead of 'a' to make something less specific.*

Another way to make a statement more general is to use no article at all.

* The submission argues that the development "would destroy the ambience that this small resort has enjoyed". —Irish Times (2002)

He recalled Hyde's drawn, unshaven face watching him, staring, like a photographic negative waiting for development, reality. —Thomas, Craig, The Last Raven (1990)

Conclusively, it does not exist a grammatical rule to correlate the 'the' use to nouns denoting process in formal texts and circumstances.


I believe it sounds a little awkward without the the:

Groundwork for development and implementation of my cunning plan.

If you don't like the article, I'd recommend this format:

Groundwork for developing and implementing my cunning plan.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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