unemployed or the unemployed

gole

Member
Nepali
I know that you need to use the article "the" if you want to turn an adjective into the general class of people with that attribute, which is why you should say "the unemployed" to refer to all unemployed people. But I saw the following sentence in MacMillian English Dictionary:

There has been a sharp rise in the number of unemployed.

When I google-searched the phrases "rise in the number of unemployed" vs. "rise in the number of the unemployed", the latter wins but not by a huge margin, which shows both are equally popular. So, what is at work here? Can some experts shed light on this?
 
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  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    There is a sharp rise in the number of unemployed.
    The sentence is fine, Gole. In this case, unemployed is an adjective; the word "people" after it is omitted, and that's common. I'm speaking of AE; it may not seem the same in BE.
     

    gole

    Member
    Nepali
    The sentence is fine, Gole. In this case, unemployed is an adjective; the word "people" after it is omitted, and that's common. I'm speaking of AE; it may not seem the same in BE.
    Thanks, Parla. You say omitting the word "people" is common in AE. Can you give me a few more examples?
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It's the same as "the bodies of the dead": "dead" is an adjective, but when you precede it with the definitive article it means "dead people."

    In the US, we usually say, e.g., "she lost her job and is now among the unemployed," although "there has been a sharp rise in the number of unemployed" sounds okay.
     

    gole

    Member
    Nepali
    It's the same as "the bodies of the dead": "dead" is an adjective, but when you precede it with the definitive article it means "dead people."

    In the US, we usually say, e.g., "she lost her job and is now among the unemployed," although "there has been a sharp rise in the number of unemployed" sounds okay.
    With the definite article "the" before an adjective, I believe it is standard English anywhere in the world. What I am not being able to explain is the omission of "the" in that sentence. Is it common in spoken English but wrong grammatically? Is it common only together with "the number of" or is it common in any case? How about omitting "the" in the following examples?

    We cannot feed (the) poor but we can fund a war.
    Higher taxes haven't hurt (the) rich at all.
    The number of (the) dead has increased sharply.
    The bodies of (the) dead have finally arrived.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I think it's because of "the number of." "The number of dead has increased" sounds fine, but the other examples don't.
     
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