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I’m writing a short paragraph about myself. I find it hard to determine what article I should use in this following sentence:

  1. I have a special interest in learning languages, computer programming, astronomy, and economy.
  2. I have special interests in learning languages, computer programming, astronomy, and economy.

Should I use a special interest in the singular with the article like in the first version, or should I use special interests in the plural without the article since what comes after it is more than one thing?

Could you guys please help me out here and tell me how to handle this type of sentence?

  • As listed in OED and other dictionaries, "special interest" is a person or a group. You don't use it in your sentence. OED: "A group of people or an organization seeking or receiving special advantages, typically through political lobbying." en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/special_interest – wordsalad Sep 9 '17 at 5:05
  • @wordsalad That's the compound or strong-collocation usage. Of course 'I have a special interest in Chinese pottery' may be used. Can you find 'yellow car' in the dictionary? Does that mean you shouldn't use it? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 9 '17 at 8:54
  • 'I have an/[a special] interest in' is a fixed form, and fixed expressions often resist modification. However, 'I have [special] interests in A, B and C' seems common enough on the internet. Be aware that the existence of the other, more restricted sense of 'special interest' that wordsalad mentions may lead to loss of clarity – Edwin Ashworth Sep 9 '17 at 9:42
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    @EdwinAshworth Thank you for giving a warning. "Loss of clarity" is exactly what I should have said. – wordsalad Sep 9 '17 at 11:16
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i would say,

I am especially interested in learning languages, computer programming, astronomy & economics.

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    I don't believe OP was asking for rewrites (though like you and the next answerer, I'd use one). – Edwin Ashworth Sep 9 '17 at 9:28
  • We're looking for answers that provide some explanation and context. Please explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed. – David Sep 9 '17 at 16:04
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You could say:

My particular areas of interest are language, computer programming, astronomy and economy.

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    I don't believe OP was asking for rewrites (though like you and the previous answerer, I'd use one). – Edwin Ashworth Sep 9 '17 at 9:28
  • We're looking for answers that provide some explanation and context. Please explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed. – David Sep 9 '17 at 16:04
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You could also put it this way. Also, using "a special interest" will be fine...

I have a special interest in learning languages, computer programming, astronomy and economy.

  • We're looking for answers that provide some explanation and context. Please explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed. – David Sep 9 '17 at 8:44
  • The above answers have modified the sentence a bit. This might be to give some clarity. But it certainly doesn't mean the line by @januaryananda cannot be used as it is by making changes to it (if any are needed). That's exactly what I've done.. But someone has edited the question now...so both my answer and the sentence in the question now is same...:) But as I mentioned,"a special interest" can be used because you are stressing more or telling specifically about that special interest that you have in something. Moreover, just using "special interest" just sounds a bit 'off' frankly..:) – D.M Sep 9 '17 at 9:18
  • The question having been edited now, there isn't a need to make any corrections to it I feel... @David What do you think... – D.M Sep 9 '17 at 9:19
  • OP asks whether the indefinite article is appropriate. You just claim that it's not wrong to use it, without saying whether it's necessary, without explaining why the article is or is not needed, and without providing any supporting evidence. I almost always downvote such answers for people with 1000+ rep. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 9 '17 at 9:32
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    @D.M Whatever's your explanation or definition, it needs to be in your answer, not in the comments. – wordsalad Sep 9 '17 at 11:37

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