What is the rule for using determiners before of phrases.

I have a feeling of safety.

You can use the functions of panning and tilting, too.

Why first phrase has before feeling indefinite article and in the second sentence is before functions the definite article.

I would use the definite article in all cases because I thought that of phrases makes noun definite.

  • Your second example isn't exactly "wrong", but it would be more natural to say You can use [the] panning and tilting functions too (article optional). And in the only slightly difference context of I like the panning function in Blender (article required), I can't really imagine a native speaker saying I like the function of panning in Blender. Jan 27, 2018 at 17:30
  • For terms like feeling [of something], it's really a stylistic choice which article to use (I had the feeling of being watched. He had a feeling of disappointment), but in practice for your specific context most people would just say I feel safe, so they don't need to think about articles anyway. Jan 27, 2018 at 17:37
  • @FumbleFingers - isn't "I have a feeling of safety" similar to "The mansion is sold at a cost of 10 million dollars"? Jan 27, 2018 at 17:44
  • @CowperKettle: If I say "Yes", what I mean is sold at a cost of isn't particularly idiomatic compared to sold at a price of, in somewhat the same way that I feel safe is more common than I have a feeling of safety. Actually, we'd probably usually say The mansion [was] sold for 10 million dollars. Jan 27, 2018 at 18:04
  • You can use panning and tilting, too. Without function. But I personally would never say: I have a feeling of safety. I'd say: I feel safe. X gives me a safe feeling. Yes.
    – Lambie
    Jan 27, 2018 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


Specific functions are mentioned in your second example so "the" is indeed grammatical. But see edit below.

Your first example involves a less defined concept. Do all people feel the same way? Can a single person have different feelings about safety? How about different degrees of intensity of feeling? Your example implicitly recognizes that "feeling of safety" may not describe a single emotion, but rather may describe an unspecified one of a range of emotions, by using "a." It is grammatical and, to this speaker of American English, idiomatic.

EDIT: I did not mean to imply disagreement with FumbleFinger's comment that "the function of panning" may be grammatical but is not idiomatic (at least not idiomatic in American English). He is correct that "the panning function" is more idiomatic. I do disagree with him that "a feeling of safety" is not idiomatic or common if indeed he is even implying that. I was only trying to distinguish between the use of definite and indefinite article in the examples as they were presented.

  • If by appropriate in your first sentence you mean required or preferred, I disagree. The phrasing isn't particularly idiomatic, per my comment above, but the more natural (singular) version is You can use [a / the] panning function (where either article is fine). In the plural equivalent, a converts to [nothing, the "zero article"], giving us You can use panning and tilting functions. Jan 27, 2018 at 17:56
  • @FumbleFingers We may in fact disagree. If there is a single function for panning, particularly if explicitly named as such, you could grammatically say "You can use the function of panning" or, more idiomatically, "You can use the panning function." I do not think it would be idiomatic in American English to use "a" or to omit the article altogether in the circumstances indicated. My focus was on the OP's question about articles; "the" implies a single identified or distinguishable thing whereas "a" does not. But I shall clarify my answer. Thanks. Jan 27, 2018 at 18:18

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