I am writing a sentence "GPU computing has become increasingly popular because of GPU's high computing throughput." I wonder if there should be a "the" like "the GPU's high computing throughput".

Grammarly suggested me to add a "the" here. I also tried to search for similar sentences and I found this

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I am not sure why we need a "the" here. We say "Tom's ball" or "the ball", but we should not say "the Tom's ball", right? So why we need a "the" before "GPU" in the sentence?

  • [edit: because of its high throughput]
    – Lambie
    Nov 5, 2019 at 17:24
  • It's a "generic" reference (not identifying any specific GPU), same as The dog's nose is more sensitive than that of the human. Nov 5, 2019 at 17:28
  • @Lambie This raises another question. Why "GPU's" rather than "GPUs'". So, why "its" rather than "their". Thx.
    – Yifan Sun
    Nov 5, 2019 at 18:46
  • @Lambie Not sure about this. The subject is GPU computing, not GPU. GPUs have high computing throughput, rather than GPU computing. I feel using "its" is confusing.
    – Yifan Sun
    Nov 5, 2019 at 19:37
  • I will remember to not be so diligent in the future....
    – Lambie
    Nov 7, 2019 at 22:23

3 Answers 3


GPU isn't a proper noun, so it is not in the same category as "the Tom's ball". Your situation is more like saying "the cat's ball."

The term "GPU" is definitely being used in a general sense here, so it is tempting to not use the article with it.

But sometimes the X is used to emphasize that we are talking about an X in general as opposed to a Y in general, especially when the context is comparing two things in a general sense. In this case, the question "which X" matters and this is when articles (and determiners in general) are used. Here, Y would likely be a CPU.


GPU computing is a noun. Just like: high-performance computing.

GPU acts like an adjective. A GPU is a specific one: a countable noun. The GPU is a specific one. In this sense, one can speak of GPUs, plural: Graphical processing units.

Its main feature is [whatever]. [possessive pronoun]

It is difficult to learn. [subject pronoun: it]

The pronoun here can only be its, third person singular.

Therefore we would write:

**GPU computing [it] has become increasingly popular because of its high computing throughput.

And this sentence: GPU computing has become increasingly popular because of GPU's high computing throughput."

is incorrect. Why?

1) We would not repeat the noun: GPU computing, nor would we make it possessive with an apostrophe S as it has already been stated as GPU computing.

2) The high computing throughput refers back to the noun. Ergo, the proper pronoun is its.

  • The lion is a noble beast. One of its main features is its mane.

  • Horses are delicate animals. Their colors can be varied.

its-singular their-plural

GPU computing

GPU computing is the use of a GPU (graphics processing unit) as a co-processor to accelerate CPUs for general-purpose scientific and engineering computing.

The GPU accelerates applications running on the CPU by offloading some of the compute-intensive and time consuming portions of the code. The rest of the application still runs on the CPU. From a user's perspective, the application runs faster because it's using the massively parallel processing power of the GPU to boost performance. This is known as "heterogeneous" or "hybrid" computing.

Please note: GPU computing, then a GPU, which then becomes in the text: the GPU.

You move from a general notion: GPU computing, to a general idea [a GPU] to a specific one: the GPU.

If you then refer to GPU computing somewhere else in the text, the pronoun would be it as a subject pronoun and its as a possessive pronoun: Its capabilities are [whatever].

That is standard writing in English.

The text given by the OP says: the GPU's computational performance. That is correct. It is the computational performance of the GPU. Its computational performance.


So in English, some words like chess are held to refer to a Singleton Entity (the game of that name, even if there are some variants in rules) whereas other words like water single out a Continuous Substance, and still other words like ball single out a Discrete Substance. There are probably other similar distinctions that I don't even know because I speak this language natively so I am too close to it.

I can tell as a native speaker by the way I portion out the thing. I cannot refer to one chess or two chesses because it is just a singleton, there is just chess. But I can refer to one ball or two balls. Or I can refer to two drops of water, one gallon of water, but I have to be in a very specific situation for three waters to make sense, for example ordering drinks at a restaurant so that the server understands implicitly that I am asking for three glasses of water. You can also sometimes portion out discrete substances as in I’d like a bucket of pebbles, I suppose, but it is not so common.

Anyway, the point is that “GPU” names one of these discrete substances. You have one GPU or two GPUs, that is grammatical; you can even say “This computer comes with GPUs” to indicate that it comes with some unknown amount more than one, but you cannot say “This computer comes with GPU” because you are placing an unportioned substance where I am expecting a portioned object. You would want an article, it comes with a GPU if there is no particular one that we are talking about or the GPU if the customer has specified a make-and-model that they expect to be in there.

Now it looks like you are referring to the generic properties of all of GPU-kind, and I think with discrete substances you have to include that definite article the in order to refer to the prototypical generic GPU. You would say “Pebble bags have become more common due to the pebble’s inherent smallness,” (generic possessive) or you might say “due to pebbles’ inherent smallness” (plural possessive), or you might even say “due to a pebble’s inherent smallness” (similarly generic, has a slightly different feel).

But you cannot just say “Due to pebble’s inherent smallness” because that generates this type error, it sounds like you are treating pebble as either some continuous substance or singleton, which it is not. It would be different if you were talking about Pebble Industries, Inc. and it were a proper noun; then due to Pebble’s rising stock price would be fine because it is a proper name and thus is a singleton. Or if you ground it up to make a continuum, due to ground pebble's inherent softness would sound correct to my ears too. Or if you count it out, due to two pebbles exploding on touch sounds unrealistic but grammatically fine. But without somehow modifying those two, my brain is objecting that ‘pebble’ names a discrete substance which needs to be portioned out or qualified in some other way.

  • You are describing countable versus uncountable (mass) nouns. I am hard pressed to see a GPU as a discrete substance...:)
    – Lambie
    Nov 6, 2019 at 15:18

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