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When should I use the preposition of and when can I omit it?

Let say, I have the following pair of sentences:

Development of the high quality software…
Development the high quality software…

Are these both sentences correct?
Are they equal?
Which one of them is better from the stylistic point of view?

Is there any difference between the rules when we're talking about the complete sentence or just short statement? For instance:

Development of the high quality software is a critical for the company. (Responsibility:) Development the high quality software

Another similar cases:

Learning the new language
Learning of the new language

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Mar 13 '17 at 15:47

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    This question will get better and more helpful answers on our sister site, English Language Learners, so I've voted to move it there. FWIW, your second example sentence, the one which omits of, is ungrammatical. – Dan Bron Mar 13 '17 at 13:23
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    Most of your examples aren't "sentences" - they're just compound noun phrases. If the "head noun" of the np is a gerund (an -ing verb form, such as developing, learning) that verb may be immediately followed by an "object" with no intervening preposition. But you can't do that with ordinary nouns, so development the high quality software is syntactically invalid. – FumbleFingers Mar 13 '17 at 13:27
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    'other similar sentences:' not so. Look up 'Gerund and present participle phrases'. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 13 '17 at 13:58
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Development of the high quality software…

Development the high quality software…

Neither is correct, sorry. There are several issues:

  • "of" is required – I'll explain why below
  • "software" is a mass noun, not a countable noun, so "the" (or "a") is incorrect
  • "critical" is not a noun, so "a critical" is incorrect

To understand why "of" is needed, let's look at a slightly different version of the sentence:

Developing high quality software is critical for the company.

In this version, "of" is not needed. "Developing" is the verb, and "software" is the object. So far so good.

What happens when we change "developing" to "development"? Well, "-ment" is a suffix that turns a verb into a noun. When you add "-ment" to a verb, the resulting noun can have a couple of different meanings:

  1. The condition brought on by the verb – enjoyment
  2. The result of the verb – accomplishment
  3. The process or action of the verb – management

"Development" uses meaning #3 – "development" is "the process of developing".

But because "development" is now a noun, we need "of" to indicate what is being developed – because a noun doesn't take an object in the way that a verb can.


Is there any difference between the rules when we're talking about the complete sentence or just short statement?

No, there's no difference. Although the "short statement" is probably not grammatical on its own; those are called "sentence fragments" and they are a grammatical error (and a larger topic).

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    +1 All great apart from your last sentence. Sentence fragments aren't 'ungrammatical' - they're just not whole sentences. That's why we see them all the time used as headings and titles. Your post would be soooo much better without that last sentence!! – Araucaria Mar 14 '17 at 16:30

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