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According to Collins Cobuild English Grammar, an uncount or abstract noun modified by an "of" phrase should generally be preceded by a "the". For example, "I am interested in education of young children." is wrong. The correct sentence should be "I am interested in the education of young children".

However, there are numerous examples that seem to disobey this rule. Please note the underlined nouns in the following sentences gleaned from mainstream English publications. They come with no article at all. Why?

1. In Europe, too, thousands of people whose lives could be extended or transformed through transplants forfeit the opportunity for want of available organs.

2. The incident is evidence of China's food-safety issues.

3. They could buy homes and watch their net worth increase thanks to steady appreciation of housing values.

4. For workers whose employers do not provide health insurance, purchase of a decent plan is often prohibitive.

5. Critical examination of the Bible revealed a multitude of inconsistencies, discrepancies and implications that were positively inimical to Roman dogma.

Thanks in advance for explaining the above.
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Hello Henry-- and welcome to English Forums.

Offhand, I'd say that we should consider Collins' guideline carefully. It reads:

'an uncount or abstract noun modified by an "of" phrase should generally be preceded by a "the".'

I think there are many places where the article is optional-- even in their example: 'I am interested in (the) education of young children.'
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Thanks, Mister Micawber. By "optional", do you mean to say that sentences in question with or without "the" both are right? I want to know when "the" is necessary, and when "the" is dispensable.
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Yes, both are fine. I don't believe you will find any neat rules-- and if you do, they will be riddled with exceptions-- on when the article is de rigueur in this kind of situation, outside of obvious specificity/previous mention:

The incident is the evidence of China's food-safety issues that was published in the papers yesterday.
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