"The team would like to increase (the number of) touchdowns."

"The school would like to increase (the number of) students in engineering."

"The government would like to decrease (the number of) traffic accidents."

How necessary is "the number of"? It seems to be a random choice, or is it?
Hi,

If I were writing carefully, I'd include 'the number of'.

As to when it can be omitted, I'd say you have to consider each case separately.. Sometimes it will sound OK, and sometimes it won't.

"The team would like to increase touchdowns." Doesn't sound good to me.

Anyway, the more natural thing to say is eg The team would like to get more touchdowns.

"The school would like to increase students in engineering." Sounds terrible.

"The government would like to decrease traffic accidents." Sounds OK.

Clive
The phrase "the number of" is essential in all three sentences. This phrase in fact is what the sentences are built around.
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Could it be that "decrease" implies "decrease the number of", but "increase" doesn't imply "increase the number of"?
Hi,

Very possibly.

'Increase'' can mean make or become greater in size or amount; become more numerous.

eg He increased his efforts.

eg The landlord increased our rents.

eg Sales increased last year.

eg He increased his prices.

Clive
"Building a new college would increase (the number of) the student population."

What should I do here?
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Hi,

"Building a new college would increase (the number of) the student population."

What should I do here? It's not correct to say 'the number of' here. The idea is that the population increases in size

Clive