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I am not sure whether to use in, on, or for after the word demand in the following sentence:

The continuing demand on high-quality software that is reusable and easy to maintain and modify after it has been released was a driving force throughout the 1980’s

How should one deal with this demand in/on/for issue in general?

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The title rarely says it all. I'd venture to say it may depend on context. Workers on strike may demand higher wages; a toddler in the middle of a tantrum may demand a new toy; my job may make demands on me. I think you should provide some more concrete examples to help us answer your question. –  J.R. Dec 27 '12 at 21:57
    
@J.R. you are right .. I've edited my post –  marc wellman Dec 27 '12 at 22:01
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4 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In that sentence, you would use demand for.

You use demand for when some entity has want of a resource, as in supply-and-demand economics. Examples would include a high demand for candy canes at Christmastime, or a high demand for beachfront cottages during the summertime.

Demand on is used when a situation is challenging, difficult, or pressure-packed for some entity. For example, at some restaurants, there is a high demand on the kitchen staff during the noontime lunch hour.

In some cases, both could be used, although the meaning would be different. For example:

At tax season, there is a high demand on accountants.

means that accountants work long hours during tax season, but:

At tax season, there is a high demand for accountants.

means that many people hire accountants at tax time.

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Thank you for the answer - helped me a lot! –  marc wellman Dec 27 '12 at 23:41
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Demand for is almost certainly what you want here. It means that lots of people wanted it. Demand on means that some kind of pressure or strain was being put on the software. I can't think of any circumstances in which it would be necessary to say demand in high-quality software.

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Thank you for your answer! –  marc wellman Dec 27 '12 at 23:41
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"Demand for" in that sentence.

Software may have demands placed on it, it may be popular and in demand, but describing a market desire would be "for", I would think.

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Thank you for your answer! –  marc wellman Dec 27 '12 at 23:42
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In general you must use context and intent to choose the correct preposition.

Demand for high-quality software means that consumers are demanding it; they want to buy it.

Demand on high-quality software talks about the performance expectations people have for the software.

Demand in would only be used when talking about a category of something. Demand in the consumer software segment has increased by 50% over the last two months.

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Thank you for your answer! –  marc wellman Dec 27 '12 at 23:41
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