I saw the following sentence in OALD:

He was forced to relinquish control of the company.

When writing in English, in some cases I don't know if the definite article 'the' should be used or not. For instance, I'm not sure if it's grammatical to write

He was forced to relinquish the control of the/that company.

But it doesn't sound incorrect to me.

Which one sounds more natural/correct to native English speakers? Which one is preferred by grammarians?

  • "control" involves a number of functions, so I would not use "the". But if you think of "control" as an official position, then I suppose it's ok. In a dictionary however, control is uncountable, so it should normally be used that way.
    – user3169
    Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 3:00

1 Answer 1


"Relinquish the control" sounds very unnatural to native speakers.

If you really wanted to put a word before control, "relinquish his control" would be better, but there is nothing wrong with "relinquish control," and it sounds perfectly natural to native speakers.

  • Ngram viewer supports your answer (“relinquish control of” is about 70 times more common). Still, since I’m not a native speaker, I’m not sure if I understand why it sounds right. Hope somebody could clarify.
    – Zak
    Commented Jan 1, 2019 at 17:12
  • @Zak The way I understand it, it sounds unnatural because "control" is not an object or a physical substance; it's more of an abstract idea. Because of that, "the" doesn't really apply, since "the" implies that the control being referenced is some specific object or substance.
    – user86111
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 17:02

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