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Some people do not think interior design is an important part of life.

Please look at the sentence above. The 'interior design' does not have a definite article in the sentence. Should I put 'the' in front of it? If I do not place anything in front of it, is it still correct?

In addition, please look at the end of the sentence. Should 'part of life' be 'part of their lives'? Or is 'part of life' still correct? If so, what makes 'part of life' and 'part of their lives' different to each other?

  • The question about "part of life" vs "part of their lives" deserves its own question in my humble opinion. The difference is subtle. – Neil Dec 20 '17 at 9:10
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- Interior design is an interesting thing to study.
- Studying English takes a lot of time.
- History can be cruel.
- They said "Money is power".

Therefore, this sentence is correct:
Some people do not think interior design is an important part of life.

It falls under the category of an "abstract noun" for an idea, quality or state, in this case, subject matter.

These types of nouns (the ones above) when used as such (as a topic being discussed or commented on) do not require a determiner.

  • a part of life = a generality, no plural.
  • a part of their lives=specifically referring to some group.

  • Some people do not think interior design is an important part of life. [a generality about life; life is an abstract noun here]

  • Some people do not think interior design is an important part of their lives. [specifically referring to some people and their actual lives, not a generality and made specific by the pronoun their; lives is not abstract here.]

[Please note: I have only dealt with the lack of a determiner for an abstract noun. I am not dealing with every single instance of determiners such as "The interior design of this house", etc. In my experience, it's best to try and grasp one major point at a time.]

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With interior design, you would only add the article the if you're talking about a specific instance of interior design. For example, if an interior designer has been working on your home, you would say the following:

He has been working hard on the interior design of our home.

We are talking about a specific home or a specific place that employs interior design, and so we use the article the. More info here: https://www.ef.edu/english-resources/english-grammar/definite-article/

Some people do not think interior design is an important part of life.

In this sentence part of life and part of their lives are both acceptable. Since we know that we are talking about some people, it's grammatical to say part of their lives. However, part of life is slightly preferable, because you are trying to say that in general people don't value interior design. The way of referring to things generally is to omit the definite article.

  • Thank you very much. Sometimes I thought that a noun without an article looks weird. So sometimes some noun dose not need an article, right? Thank you. – James Dec 20 '17 at 7:48
  • You should read that article link I included above. It gives you all the information you need to understand the definite article "the." It's important to understand in English, so I hope you read it. – Ringo Dec 20 '17 at 8:00
  • Even with the guidance you give here, I can see how this would be tricky for a leaner. For example, I'd say: "Some people do not think interior design is an important part of their lives" (no article before interior design), but I also might say: "Some people do not think the interior design is an important part of their house" (article included, because the meaning of the first part can shift with that one word change). Yet it'd also be grammatical to say: "Some people do not think interior design is an important part of their house" because we can also refer to design in general again. – J.R. Dec 20 '17 at 10:27
  • @J.R. I suppose you're right. There might be someone out there who can answer it better. I admit, I had a lot of trouble writing this answer, when I initially thought it would be easy. – Ringo Dec 20 '17 at 16:26
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    RE: I had a lot of trouble writing this answer, when I initially thought it would be easy. I love it; that's often the surest sign of a great ELL question :-) – J.R. Dec 20 '17 at 17:16

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