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For the efficient running of the business, banking facilities play an important role.

This is a text from my textbook. In my opinion, if we remove the bolded the from the quoted text then the sentence will sound better. I believe the in that place signifies that we are talking about particular “efficient running”, and not “efficient running” in general terms [in the original context, we are not talking about specific efficient running]. Is my interpretation correct about the superfluous use of the definite article in the quoted text? Do we really need the definite article there?

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Your textbook is correct. Yes, we really do need the definite article there. It announces an approaching gerund: running.

Although you're right in thinking "the house" is specific and "a house" is not, there is nothing specific about the efficient running. In "the stealing of other people's property is illegal" there is no specific act of theft, but theft generally. Your sentence discusses the efficient running (of the business) generally.

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  • Thank you :-). I would be grateful if you could give me an example where only “for efficient running” can be used. I am looking forward to your response. Thank you for your help. Oct 13 '20 at 10:04
  • @OldBrixtonian: Actually, there is something very specific: "efficient running" versus "inefficient running": versus "any kind of running". I think your answer needs an update. Your example with "stealing" is equally flawed, it opposes stealing to all legal activities.
    – virolino
    Oct 13 '20 at 10:04
  • @virolino But efficient is an adjective, it doesn’t tell that we are talking about something specific. E.g, “it is foul-smelling trash” (no definite article needed); however, “it is the foul-smelling trash of our neighbors” (we need the definite article here because we are talking about specific trash). So I don’t think that using an adjective makes something specific. Please correct me if I am wrong. Oct 13 '20 at 10:15
  • @AydenFerguson: it is not a good idea to choose "the correct answer" very soon. You should wait a bit more time, to see whether other answers suit better. There is no rule to determine if the first answer is better than the others or not.
    – virolino
    Oct 13 '20 at 10:16
  • @AydenFerguson: it is quite rare in English that nouns don't have an article at all. I already explained in the previous comment why "efficient running" is actually specific.
    – virolino
    Oct 13 '20 at 10:18
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When you use:

For the efficient running of the business...

then "running" behaves more like a noun, being paired with an adjective ("efficient") and followed by a genitive ("of the business"). That is the main reason why the omitting of the definite article is not grammatically correct.

The definite article is needed in order to emphasize that the sentence is about a specific "running". Another sentence can be built to emphasize:

For the inefficient running of the business, banking facilities are irrelevant.


If you reword it slightly:

For efficiently running the business...

then the article is forbidden grammatically, since verbs cannot be paired with articles. Because of the adverb "efficiently", "running" has the value of a verb (note also the disappearance of the genitive).

Although it would sound better like:

To efficiently run the business...

in which case "to run" is obviously a verb and cannot be "articled" in any way.


Another reason why "the" is required

Not only that "running" is made specific by "efficient", it is made specific even more by "of the business". Since "the business" is specific, then "the running" must be also specific.

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  • I am a little confused here. You have written a wonderful answer, but I have a doubt. Are you trying to say that the use of an adjective (i.e, “efficient) is responsible for the use of the definite article here? In simpler words, has the adjective “efficient” made the noun “running” specific here, and this is the reason we are using the definite article here? Oct 13 '20 at 10:41
  • @AydenFerguson: I added to the answer. Even without the grammer explanation, without "the" the sentence sounds like something is missing. Like the bug misses a leg in "La Cucaracha" :)
    – virolino
    Oct 13 '20 at 11:52

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