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I would like to limit my dissertation to three spheres: economy, politics, and culture of America.

Do I need to add 'the' before economy, politics...?

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Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/2031/… –  z7sg Ѫ Jan 13 '12 at 16:55
    
There should be no whitespace before the colon. This is English, not French. –  RegDwigнt Jan 13 '12 at 18:08
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I think it would be decidedly odd to say "I'm talking about economy of America" or "...American economy", so I don't think the word "the" can be discarded in the context of this list, even though it's possible to discard it with politics and culture. –  FumbleFingers Jan 13 '12 at 19:04
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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I would go with the economy, politics and culture.

The reason I prefer that is because there are two senses of economy.

  1. the state of a country or region in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money
  2. careful management of available resources

The second is a mass noun so using the definite article precludes it. Of course, the reader should infer meaning number 1 anyway but I think it sounds better this way.

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I was tempted to say that he would be better to write, "economics, politics, and culture" etc, to get the parallelism between "economics" and "politics". But I thought a little more and concluded it didn't matter. Debateable, I guess. –  Jay Jan 13 '12 at 21:13
    
@Jay Yes was tempted to say that too! But for some reason it sounds better this way. I was also tempted to post a lot of examples like "It's the economy, stupid" and "a day in politics is a long time" but I can't really explain in more detail precisely why you do need the article for the economy. I agree with the comment on the related question I posted that it's something you have to just get a feel for in English rather than something governed by set rules. –  z7sg Ѫ Jan 13 '12 at 23:46
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There is a difference between economy and the economy here (so it is with the rest.)

I would like to limit my dissertation to three spheres: economy, politics, and culture of America.

refers to the academic subjects.

I would like to limit my dissertation to three spheres: the economy, the politics, and the culture of America.

refers to the state of these things at some of time, presumed current, unless defined in context.

That's the way I would understand it.

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I think that sentence would be grammatically correct with no "the", with a single "the" before "economy", or with a "the" before each of the three items. My inclination would be to include three "the"s, but I don't think it's wrong without it, nor do I see how it would change the meaning.

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As it is something listing it seems you do not need using "the". This may be another alternative:

I would like to limit my dissertation to three spheres: American economy, American politics, and American culture.

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