The following phrase sounds to be incorrect for my ears.

"... to avoid bending of the rules."

Shouldn't it be either

"... to avoid the bending of the rules."


"... to avoid bending the rules."*

The last two seem to be definitely better than the original. Is it so? If yes, which one sounds better?


Any of the three can be used in the right context:

"... to avoid bending of the rules." (by anyone)

"... to avoid the bending of the rules." (in a specific instance)

"... to avoid bending the rules." (myself)

Suppose I'm an English professor who has teaching assistants and has given a class an essay to write. In this context, the following all “sound natural” to me as a native speaker:

  • I wrote a detailed marking scheme to avoid bending of the rules by the TAs

  • I gave John a “B” to avoid the bending of the rules that would have been needed to give him an “A”.

  • I gave John a “B” to avoid bending the rules

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True, out of those three I feel the third one is preferable. The reason is, it sounds natural and when we use of + noun, it may give the flair of possession here, in this context which is quite unnecessary.

...to avoid bending the rules - conveys the message without any hassle

As a non-native speaker, I always try for something which is clear, uses less words (articles, prepositions?) and to-the-point.

JFYI, there's also a movie titled Bending The Rules.

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  • 1
    I don't disagree, but as a lifelong speaker of AmE, the first feels natural too. It's only the second example that feels odd. – Jolenealaska Apr 4 '14 at 10:44
  • @Jolenealaska in that case, I learned that in AmE, the first one is fine. Thanks – Maulik V Apr 4 '14 at 10:47

The original version may sound a little odd but it is not incorrect. Here is an example using both the original form and your 2nd suggestion.

"I implemented a security system to avoid bending of the rules."

"I implemented a security system to avoid bending the rules."

The first version implies that the security system was implemented to avoid the general phenomena of rules being bent, whereas the second version implies that I implemented it because I personally wanted to avoid bending the rules.


"... to avoid the bending of the rules"

is a strange way to put it. Maybe if you think of it with a different action verb you will notice it sounds strange. For example, "... to avoid the running", or "... to avoid the drinking". Those are not incorrect but they are referring to specific running or drinking, whereas "bending of the rules" is most probably making a general reference to rule-bending.

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With gerunds + object you have three choices:

1 The playing of football is not allowed. - One might call it "the full form".

2 Playing football is not allowed. - The shortened form.

3 Football playing is not allowed. - Here the object is placed before the gerund.

The full form as in 1 is very long, and "the" and "of" are not essential. So the form 2 is the most frequent. But you find form 1 and 3 as well.

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