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I'd like to know if I can omit the definite article when I'm giving some sort of a list, like in this example:

The company's reputation increases in the following cases:

  • Interest on the governmental level, Government and non-governmental organizations involved
  • Increased interest by the national and foreign media
  • Possibility of making decisions on reduced work engagement

Do I need to use articles before "interest" or "possibility" in this example, or I can leave them out when listing things like this?

  • Since your bullet points do not make a complete sentence or sentence-like structure overall, it seems to me this is a matter of personal preference. – Helmar Jul 18 '16 at 11:57
  • Thank you very much for the answer Helmar! I was thinking that as a general rule, the use of articles in similar lists might not be subject to the usual rules, regarding the countability and plurality of a noun. – Rejlan Givens Jul 18 '16 at 13:55
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When using bullets, I look at them as alternative endings to the introductory sentence. In this example, the introductory sentence says "The company's reputation increases when...", the bullet points then have to make sense as a continuation.

Bullet 1 becomes

(when) interest is Piqued/stimulated/captured at the government level gaining involvement from both government and non-government organizations.

Bullet 2 becomes

(when) interest is increased by the national and foreign media (when) increased interest is shown by national and foreign media

Bullet 3 becomes

(when) decisions can be made without substantial work engagement.

(when) there exists a possibility of making decisions on reduced work engagement

(when) the possibility of decision making on reduced work engagement exists


So in answer to the original question, "possibility" can have either a definite or indefinite article depending on the context. If you previously mention the "possibility" or use it in the context that "the possibility exists", making "possibility" something specific then the definite article can be used. If you are casually referring to "a remote possibility" and have not previously mentioned this possibility, then the indefinite article can be used. Personally I would use neither and confidently state that "decisions can be made".

In answer to the 2nd part of the question, I would not use an article on interest because "interest" is not being used as a noun, interest is being used as a verb. To show interest, to be interested in (verb). Not "the public interest" (noun). I would also not use an article on national media because media could be considered countable (plural).

  • Thank you very much for the exhaustive answer Isobella! I was inclined to leave out the article before "possibility", for the reasons you explained in your answer. I was having in mind "possibility" in a general sense of the word, not a specific possibility previously reffered in the text. As to "interest" I wasn't tempted to use an article in the first phrase "interest on the governmental level", but in the second one, where it is qualified with "increased" I felt that the indefinite article might sound good. – Rejlan Givens Jul 18 '16 at 13:52

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