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I am writing an essay with this sentence:

This study focuses on the transformation of the economy.

I wonder if to refer to the economy as a whole I could say

This study focuses on the transformation of economy.

According to both the Macmillan Dictionary and the Cambridge English Dictionary, the word economy when referring to the whole of trade, business, and industry should be countable. It is only an uncountable noun when used to mean "saving money". Does it mean it should always be preceded by the definite article when used in this sense?

It seems strange that I found a lot of examples online that defy this.

More clearly even than the transformations of economy, the transformations of law reveal the influences of the quantity, for example, or of the heterogeneity of the associated unities.

The course examines contemporary Latin America, and the transformations of economy, society and politics that have occurred in the twentieth century.

The transformations of economy and society since the mid-1970s have generated a more political world, as conceptions about ways of resolving the emerging problems have sharpened and fractured the postwar political consensus.

... to analyze how the adaptiveness of states is today accomplished within the framework of globalized inter-state integration, although often still haphazardly regulating the transformation of economy and society on a global scale, and how well this is embedded in global society;

  • Normally, in a study, you would define the word: on the transformation of the U.S. economy; the Latin American economy; the Russian economy. Economy without the means something else: it means a principle where you don't spend or use up many resources. And I disagree with those sentences. "Transformation of economy" is not contemporary English. That book is from 1898! – Lambie Apr 23 '18 at 18:34
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As a countable noun, ("the economy", "our economy", etc.), the word means "the system of production, distribution, and consumption, especially within a political or geographic entity".

"It's the economy, stupid."

(James Carville's strategy for Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign — i.e. harp on the economic troubles caused by Bush's tax policy and brief Gulf War.)

An an uncountable noun ("economy"), the word used to mean the science of economics; now it means "frugal use of resources", e.g.

We decided to car-pool, for the sake of economy.

I think you mean the former.

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I wonder if to refer to the economy as a whole I could say

This study focuses on the transformation of economy.

You cannot leave out 'the' if you are referring to 'the economy as a whole', as you yourself wrote. The four quotes which you say are puzzling to you are all referring to 'economy' as a non-countable noun, which can mean '[careful] management of available resources', not just saving money.

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To me, it would work better if it were phrased:

The transformation of our economy.

This bypasses any possible confusion over using or not using the article.


The online examples you cited confuse me even more—especially those that use a conjunction.

Typically, with conjunctions, articles (as well as other parts of a sentence) are only used with the first element but expanded to cover all of them.

For example:

The apples, [the] oranges, and [the] pears fell out of the basket.

Although we normally omit subsequent articles, their presence is assumed.

If an initial article should not be applied to all elements, then those that get a different one are given one explicitly:

The apples, [the] oranges, and a pear fell out of the basket.

So, now consider one of your examples if I rephrase it to include an initial article (assuming it's even appropriate):

The transformations of the economy, [the] society and [the] politics.

Although I know that in this sentence the article only applies to the first noun—I am somewhat "conditioned" to apply the initial article to all elements

Not only because of confusion over economy and the economy but also because of this type of incorrect expansion, I think that our economy would be a better choice. Not only does our economy make sense, but so do our society and our politics.

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