Having the following sentences and lines of reasoning:

Video Games are becoming more and more hardware demanding. In running such a game, the computer may freeze. (*)

My line of reasoning: the definite article is used because we want to focus on the computer that is running a game, we can process the sentence as follows: In (the procces of) running such a game (by a computer), the computer may freeze. "In running such a game" introduces a computer in the background, and in the next part of the sentence we are referring to this computer.

Video Games are becoming more and more hardware demanding. In running such a game, a computer may freeze.

My line of reasoning: the indefinite article is used because we want to focus on the fact that any computer (with poor hardware) may freeze when running a hardware demanding game.

Video Games are becoming more and more hardware demanding. A computer, in running such a game, may freeze.

My line of reasoning: the same as in the second.

I have the following questions:

  1. Are all the sentences correct?
  2. Are the lines of reasoning correct?
  3. Do all the sentences roughly communicate the same information? And if so:
  4. Which one will be chosen by a native?

I know that the legitimacy of some of the questions depends on the legitimacy of others, but I hope you will understand my doubts from the questions.

(*) I assume that no explicit referent of the computer appeared before the sentence and the word appeared the first time in this sentence.


All of the sentences are reasonable. In trying to choose between them, I realized that I would want the larger context. If these two sentences are part of a larger piece of writing that larger piece of writing would tell me which aspects to emphasize or focus on. Your analysis looks correct as well.

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  • What if each of the sentences is the first sentence that a host of a television show about video games utters in an episode about the advances in gaming technology? Which one would you choose and why? – piter00 Aug 29 '19 at 19:48
  • In that case, I think my next sentence would be describing what hardware IS necessary. The third sentence could describe the consequence, e.g., "when running on older, less capable, hardware, the computer might hang." – Edward Barnard Aug 29 '19 at 19:52
  • I think that in this case the Noun Phrase "the hardware" implicitly introduces a referent of the Noun Phrase "the computer". Don't you think that it is more an issue of the ability to find a referent in the discourse? – piter00 Aug 29 '19 at 20:06
  • In these cases, I do think it's easy to match up what is referring to what. We're assuming the reader knows that a video game runs on a computer. I don't think there would be any source of confusion or ambiguity here. – Edward Barnard Aug 29 '19 at 20:22
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    "...hardware demanding. A computer such as the one in my basement, an IBM PC/AT from the late 1980s, would not have the necessary processing power." – Edward Barnard Aug 29 '19 at 20:30

We don't generally do proofreading here, but you've done a good job framing your question, and I think it's worth pointing out the following:

  • Video games is not a proper noun. Lose the upper-case 'G'.
  • The prepositional phrase "in running such a game" doesn't sound idiomatic. I think "when running" would work better than "in running".
  • I think the two sentences would sound better together if you stuck with the plural, instead of switching to the singular.

Put all three suggestions together, and we get:

Video games are becoming more and more hardware demanding. When running such games, the computer may freeze.

Getting back to your initial question, I think the definite article works fine. It's obvious from the context that "the computer" refers to "the computer that happens to be running the game".

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