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The bases for growth in the real estate industry include sustainable economic growth, rapid urbanization due to expanded investment on the transportation and infrastructure system, high demand for property due to growth in per capita income, and increase in foreign investment.

Assuming there is no context, just this sentence alone. I am not sure if this sentence is correct or there is any grammar problem in it. For example, I feel like it could have been "the high demand for" and "the increase in" but then, they don't sound right to me.

Generally, I am quite confused with the usage of "the" as I am not sure when to use it and not to use it, especially in business writing. For example, I'm not sure whether it should be "Industry supply will increase to meet demand of new housing" or "Industry supply will increase to meet the demand of new housing."

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    In the example sentence you give, you would appear to be speaking generally, about what determines "the bases for growth in the real estate industry". If that be the case I would NOT suggest using "the" in the places you propose. Remember "the" is a definite article, and is only used where you refer to a specific instance of something. The sentence would, however, benefit if you said "a high demand for property" and "an increase in foreign investment". It seems it is the indefinite article that you need here. – WS2 Dec 21 '16 at 9:29
  • Thanks for your comment. Should I use "an increase" if I mean that the increase is a general trend instead of an instance? – dtan13 Dec 21 '16 at 11:13
  • @WS2 - What you said is generally true, but remember that the has other uses besides "a specific instance of something." For example, we can also use the to indicate a general case, as in Elizabeth plays the piano, or The lion is the king of the jungle. And perhaps we should provide the O.P. with a link to the community for English Language Learners. – J.R. Dec 21 '16 at 11:17
  • @J.R. Maybe better to vote to migrate it to ELL? – Dan Bron Dec 21 '16 at 11:36
  • @DanB - with newer users, I think it's most important to make them aware of both communities. There's the smaller issue of what to do with a particular question, and the larger issue of where will this person ask their next five questions. (In this case, I think the question could be migrated or remain here.) – J.R. Dec 21 '16 at 11:39
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+50

Let's start with your example. Part of what would make it sound "wrong" to add "the" to any one of the things you list is that it would break parallel structure unless you added it to all of them. Though this is a mistake that native speakers make frequently, it is not good style to say:

My shopping cart includes vegetables, meat, the cookie, and ice cream.

because "the cookie" breaks parallel structure. I could instead say:

My shopping cart includes the carrot, the beef, the cookie, and the ice cream I needed.

A notable exception to this is that "the" can be used on the first item only, though it is implied that it applies to the others as well as in:

The Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights are all stored in the National Archives in Washington DC

Where "the" is implied before "Constitution" and "Bill of Rights".

As for when to use "the" versus when not to, "the" is used to denote one and only one of something. For example, if you were to say:

the increase in foreign investment

you are talking about a specific increase. It might sound more natural if you provide additional context, like saying:

the increase in foreign investment that resulted from globalization.

or something similar. When you omit "the", you are no longer referring to one and only one of something, typically you are instead referring to something in general. You can say:

Housing markets benefit from factors including high demand and increase in foreign investment.

To talk about housing markets in general. High demand here is not referring to any particular period of high demand, just high demand in general. If I say:

The housing market in the United States benefited from the high demand due to the GI Bill, and the increase in foreign investment brought by expatriation from Europe.

It is clear that I am talking about particulars.

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Most of Noah's answer is very informational and helpful. The part of the answer remaining unaddressed, however, is how to fit "increase in foreign investment" into the rest of the listed items.

You have correctly identified an issue with that clause. The issue is that increase, as it's written in your original post, presents itself as a verb which is trying to blend into a list of objects. You have also correctly noted that using "the" or "a" with "increase" can clarify the sentence.

"Increase in foreign investment", without an article, refers to the action of something increasing investments in foreign business. You still need a subject for that phrase to work. "Apple will increase [their] foreign investment."

"The increase in foreign investment" refers to the actual increase itself, not the action of increasing. It's a valid subject. "The increase in foreign investment was quite large."

The solution is simple. Change "increase" (defaulted to verb as it's written) to increases (can be read as a noun).

  • Also there is an issue with the preposition in "expanded investment on the transportation and infrastructure system". Investment is "in" something. Spending is "on" something. – EllieK Dec 27 '16 at 22:09
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Your sentence is technically correct but is very hard to read.

Firstly I would recommend that you don't write sentences of this length (especially in business). The word 'the' is used far too frequently in the English language and is mostly unnecessary. It is very hard to grasp the full concept of it. Therefore it is generally better to go with what you think sounds right.

Original Sentence -

The bases for growth in the real estate industry include sustainable economic growth, rapid urbanization due to expanded investment on the transportation and infrastructure system, high demand for property due to growth in per capita income, and increase in foreign investment.

New Sentences -

Bases for growth in the real estate industry include sustainable economic expansion, rapid urbanisation , high demand for property , and increase in foreign investment. Rapid urbanisation is occurring due to the expanded investment on the transportation and infrastructure system, while demand for property because of increase in per capita income.

Also try to decrease the repeated words like investment (i don't know any synonyms)

Good page on the word 'the' - http://www.trussel.com/the.htm

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