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I can't seem to find an answer to this anywhere.

In writing an article title, I proposed "A new material for the manufacture of bricks". A colleague of mine believes this should be "A new material for manufacture of bricks".

This sounds strange to my foreign ear, but I don't have a rigorous reason.

Is there a rule in this case? Are both valid with different connotations?

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Here's the relevant usage chart...

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...where as you can see, the article-less form with for manufacture [of X] is far less common than either the straight noun for the manufacture [of X] OR the "gerund noun" for manufacturing X. Note that the gerund version never includes an article.

In don't think the article-less version is actually syntactically invalid, but I would strongly advise learners to avoid it, and stick with one of the other two forms above. I can't see any semantic difference between any of them - it's just a stylistic choice.

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  • Thank you very much for the data and answer. Could you expand a little on the stylistic implications?
    – Sardine
    Dec 2, 2023 at 18:26
  • I don't know of any stylistic implications worth posting here. The first version you wrote in your question (A new material for the manufacture of bricks) is by far the most common one. Stick with that for your own text, and accept that occasionally you'll read / hear other versions from other people. Just don't be too easily tempted to copy those "less common" others - it's unlikely that would ever "improve" your use of English. Dec 2, 2023 at 18:40
  • 'Style choice' is polysemous between 'according to the preferences of the author' (purely subjective) ... 'conveying a certain attitude, atmosphere, 'feel', ambience, register ... to the typical reader' (involving connotation). I'd say the anarthrous choice here is more staccato, technical-sounding. Dec 2, 2023 at 19:20
  • @EdwinAshworth: Like newspaper headline writers, technical writers have a tendency to discard "unnecessary" articles. So your assessment may be relatively accurate (insofar as that means anything for such a "less-favoured" choice), but I suggest it wouldn't be a good idea for learners here to assume technical-sounding = more formal = better (for impressing the boss at work, say). I doubt there are any contexts where the article-less version is the best choice, but I'm sure there will be contexts (especially with nouns other than manufacture) where the gerund is better. Dec 2, 2023 at 20:05

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