I came across two title in internet articles:

What is the primary function of the BIOS & the CMOS?


What is a function of the BIOS?

And the following was a listing of all the functions of BIOS.

Which of the sentences is right?

I recognized about sentences "What is (a/the) function of ..." in the www.context.reverso.net and was in surprised to find out that "What is a function of smth" hardly used in contrast to "What is the function of smth". But why? Maybe that is right, because the BIOS and others similary things has only one function. Am I right?

1 Answer 1


The first sentence is right. A primary function is a unique thing, and the definite article is required.

The second sentence seems a little odd. When it heads a list of various functions, a better expression would be

What are the functions of the BIOS?

You can still speak of a function when you are referring to any of the items in the list of functions, like this:

A function of the BIOS is to provide startup information for a computer.

  • Thanks. So "What is the function (in meaning of the whole functionality) of the BIOS?" also would be suited. Wouldn't?
    – xyz
    Nov 6, 2020 at 16:23
  • Yes, if you are looking at it as a single thing. Nov 6, 2020 at 20:06

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