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First off, I'd like to say "hello", as it's my first post here. Nonetheless, you guys have been helping me for quite some time, since I've been an avid reader. It's high time I asked a question that I haven't seen being answered before.

Articles, as we have to admit, might get a little tricky. Especially considering differences between AE and BE. I manage to handle them pretty well, that is until I come across some exceptionts I can not fully comprehend. Case in pont: I'm reading "Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon. The author sometimes uses structures like:

"(...) a faithful person could find encouragement, and a faithless one ample reason to despond"

Or

"(...) his bowed legs and simian arms affixed to his neck without apparent benefit of shoulders."

As far as I'm concerned both "benefit" and "reason" are countable and singular, so why would Chabon omit articles, that, to my eye, should be put before them? Or perhaps I'm the one messing something up?

  • I have reason to think that there is benefit to using Google Books to check actual instances of "uncountable" usages for such nouns. I might have more than one reason, and there might be more than one benefit, but there's no need to be specific down to that level. – FumbleFingers Nov 11 '14 at 17:02
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As you see in this definition, reason can be uncountable. So can benefit as you can see here.

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Both are used there as non-countable nouns.

Reason ~ justification.

Benefit ~ help.

Non-countable does not mean that the noun has no plural forms. It means that the noun does not consist of discrete sub-units.

Would you like more mashed potatoes? INCORRECT: No thanks, I have eaten too many already.

Do you need more quarters for the vending machines? CORRECT: Thanks, I do. I have too few.

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