Should I use the definite article in the following sentence:

"Slipping on ice often leads to the disruption of tendons."

would it be better to omit the article, like:

Slipping on ice often leads to disruption of tendons."

The use of articles before mass nouns or action nouns and "of" is so confusing. In one case it requires not to use "the" like:

"He took control of him."

In other cases it requires to use them like:

"The teaching of English is not an easy thing."


"The distribution of power in the country is not fair."

Could anyone help me to figure out when to use "the" and when not?

  • But The teaching of English is not an easy thing. can omit both the and of : Teaching English is not an easy thing. - Ditto "Power distribution in the country is not fair.
    – mplungjan
    Nov 28, 2017 at 19:29
  • It's not a matter of which one is better. It's a matter of what kind of reference you want to make. And that is entirely up to you. Use a definite noun phrase to make a definite reference. A definite noun phrase is constructed using the definite article. Nov 29, 2017 at 0:43
  • Could you pleas give me some examples? It is still unclear to me. What if dropped the article, would it mean disruption in general? And if I keep it thare, would it mean that I am talking about some specific disruption? Nov 29, 2017 at 7:14

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately I think there are many different rules to say when you should or should not use the definite article. Past a certain point, it's more about copying what native speakers do, and learning certain patterns

See for example, this article (and some of the linked articles) which explains some of the places where native speakers don't use the definite article: Zero-marking in English.

With your example

falling on ice can lead to the tearing of tendons

does not sound natural, but is grammatical, because "the tearing of tendons" is a specific, known, and singular thing. Meanwhile

falling on ice can lead to torn tendons

does not need the definite article, because "torn tendons" is plural.

Side note: "Disrupting" tendons is not natural. As I mentioned in a different question, Google should help here. If you search for "tendon injury" you will find that the relevant websites use verbs like, tear, strain, or sprain rather than disrupt.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .