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  1. Executing agency (also referred to as "executing entity") shall mean the entity responsible for execution of UN-Women programme activities as defined in regulation 27.2.
  1. The funds generated through the round tables should be allocated directly to UNDP, or to the United Nations and specialized agencies, or to the beneficiary Governments responsible for execution of these projects, in order to reduce the number of intermediaries and shorten time-lags.
  1. The Executive Director of UNEP shall be responsible for the execution of the functions of UNEP under this MOU.
  1. Judges responsible for the execution of sentences must be appointed; meanwhile, criminal judges must perform this function.
  1. The manufacturer shall be responsible for the execution of the approved plan of remedial measures.

Could you please explain why the zero article is used in the first two sentences before the word "execution", while in the other three sentences there is the definite article before the same word?

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  • 1
    Because sentences 1 and 2 are general statements, but 3, 4 and 5 are about specific instances? Aside: the phrase "Judges responsible for the execution of sentences" is a rather unfortunate choice of words. Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 12:37
  • @WeatherVane Could be worse: "Juges responsible for the execution of executions"
    – Ben A.
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 12:45
  • @WeatherVane In other words, do you suggest that there is a difference in meaning? For example, this one sounds like a general statement to me: "Judges responsible for the execution of sentences must be appointed; meanwhile, criminal judges must perform this function". Nevertheless, it has the definite article before the word "execution". Let's say it is written this way: "Judges responsible for execution of sentences must be appointed; meanwhile, criminal judges must perform this function". Will the meaning change?
    – giga2712
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 12:48
  • Not a difference in meaning, but in usage of the article. Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 12:52
  • @WeatherVane Sorry, I can't provide further context since I found those sentences on Reverso Context. You are saying that there will not be a difference in meaning, it's just a question of correct and incorrect usage of the article. For example, let's focus on these two sentences: "Executing agency (also referred to as "executing entity") shall mean the entity responsible for execution of UN-Women programme activities as defined in regulation 27.2". "The Executive Director of UNEP shall be responsible for the execution of the functions of UNEP under this MOU".
    – giga2712
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 12:57

2 Answers 2

1

I think the key here is that execution is a noun. So, let's look at two examples:

Bob was responsible for tires, toads, and transistors.

Bob was responsible for the tires, the toads, and the transistors.

In the first sentence, tires, toads, and transistors are general responsibilities. If some unspecified item comes up that has something to do with tires, or toads, or transistors, Bob is responsible for it.

In the second sentence, the tires is a specific responsibility, as is the toads and the transistors. It seems some specific plan has already been adopted, and in it, Bob will be responsible for procuring, or maintaining, or assembling some number of each of the three items.

So, execution of UN-Women programme activities could go either way, depending on whether regulation 27.2 spelled out some vague, unspecified responsibility or whether it gave specific duties that had already been planned.

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The rule for using the definite article "the" is that it has to point to something definite, or specific.

In your example, it is referring to "execution of UN-Women programme activities".

The question is - does "UN-Women programme activities" refer to something specific? Is it a descriptive noun, or just a general description? If the answer is yes, it is a noun, then there can be a specific execution of these. In fact, "the execution" can be a property of the programme activities. If the answer is no, and it is a very loose description of something, then the execution of them can only be spoken of in the same broad terms, so the definite article is not appropriate.

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  • Thank you for your explanation! So if these "UN-Women programme activities" are a particular set of activities that are, for example, set out in a particular document, I should use the definite article before the word "execution". However, if these "UN-Women programme activities" are not specifically defined somewhere and can include a lot of different things (maybe limited only by the purpose, but not by a specific list of such activities), I should use the zero article before the word "execution". Am I right?
    – giga2712
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 16:00
  • @giga2712 That is really the determiner in this example. There may be other contexts where the verb takes on different meaning by adding the article.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 7:41

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