Usage example with a context:

Tusk said the EU would go ahead anyway with new sanctions against 19 Russian and Ukrainian individuals and nine entities next week, despite having agreed on Monday to suspend implementation for a week to boost the chances of success of the Minsk talks.

Why is it not "the implementation" since we know what implementation he's talking about? I know that often in English nouns that are used to describe processes do not require an article in font of them. Is this such a case? Is this something similar to how execution is used in "Use this command to stop execution of your code"?

I really am trying to deeply understand how this works. So, after a lot of thinking I have come up with the following line of reasoning (tell me if you find it wrong): if we substitute the noun in question for a gerund form like so "despite having agreed on Monday to suspend implementing new sanctions for a week" and if it still makes perfect grammatical sense (it may sound slightly grammatically awkward though), then we probably don't need an article. Am I on the right track with this, people?


1 Answer 1


Implementation is both the act of implementing and the result of that act. I think that your proposed method of converting it to a gerund is just leveraging that it is an action. Whether you need an article and whether it is indefinite or definite depends on the context.

I like your implementation of this feature.
We should delay implementation until we have better requirements.
The implementation of this feature isn't ideal.
I'm working on implementation of that feature this week.
A complete implementation is difficult without detailed requirements.

I think that the technique of substituting a gerund works for some situations, but not all. For example, it doesn't work in this example:

Because of the storm, migration of applications to the new servers was suspended.
Because of the storm, migrating of applications to the new servers was suspended.

In the first sentence we could write "the migration", but we don't have to. There's a subtle difference when I use the definite article. If I say "the migration", it implies there's a plan or project that involves migrating the applications. If I drop the article and just use "migration" it seems more like an ongoing activity. Maybe some people are migrating their applications to the new servers, and maybe some aren't, but no one is migrating applications right now because of the storm.

I thought the technique of substituting a gerund was interesting, so I asked a question on EL&U and found that these sorts of words are called peripheral modifiers in some references, and while I thought they almost always had to have a -tion suffix, that isn't the case.

  • From what I understand, the same noun can have a slight (or maybe even significant, in some cases) change in its meaning depending on whether an article is used. "We should delay implementation until we have better requirements." - here we are talking about the process of creating something. But in this example: "The implementation of this feature isn't ideal.", I think we are talking about "the results of the work". What do you think? Feb 15, 2015 at 7:23
  • @CookieMonster You understand it the same way I do.
    – ColleenV
    Feb 15, 2015 at 13:19

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