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Are there any differences between the uses/meanings of "lack of" and "a lack of" for example in the following?

  1. There is a lack of interest in the topic
  2. There is lack of research on the subject

Thanks

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In OP's particular example I think there's no doubt the article would normally be included, but there's nothing particularly unusual about the version without it.

But I do think there's a stronger case for saying that in constructions where "the/a lack" is the grammatical subject, including the article stands out as "idiomatically uncommon". The easiest way I can think of to illustrate this is through Google Books...

but lack of funding (caused the project to founder) - about 1490 written instances
but a lack of funding (etc.) - about 532 hits

As implied, that disparity is just a quirk of established idiomatic preference. I don't think there are any contexts where there could be a semantic difference.

  • 1
    Yes, I'd say existential there renders the zero article option less idiomatic. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 20 '15 at 21:27
  • @Edwin: I really don't know whether it's a matter of existential there as such, or simply that consequently the/a lack won't be the syntactic subject in such a construction anyway. It's only an idiomatic preferrence, and not that consistently observed, so I don't know how much further one could take this issue. – FumbleFingers Nov 20 '15 at 21:51
  • Hey, I'm agreeing with you (it's getting near Christmas). – Edwin Ashworth Nov 20 '15 at 22:07
  • @Edwin: Hey, I'm certainly not disagreeing with you! I was kinda hoping I might tickle you into either telling me more about what you already know, or doing some spade-work / thinking to figure out something neither of us yet knows. My second sentence above was just by way of saying it's not that important if you can't or don't want to bother. (Whatever - "Merry Christmas", if it's not too soon :) – FumbleFingers Nov 20 '15 at 22:20
  • @FumbleFingers: Thanks for the answer. Although both uses sound fine to me, I feel there are subtleties that are not too easy to establish. – Bran Nov 20 '15 at 23:03
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The use of the indefinite article indicates singularity. "A lack of"indicates " a particular lack of"(Thefreedictionary.com).If you use "lack of"you refer to "lack or absence in a general way. Your examples require "a".

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