I was reading this book, and I came across the following sentences whose usage of articles and singular/plural nouns I couldn't understand.

  1. A Days Inn in West Palm Beach had to pay $70,000 in penalties and restitution for overcharging customers.

-> In this sentence, I was wondering why only the word "penalties" were used in a plural form and "restitution" in a singular form.

  1. A just price, determined by (why no the?) tradition and the intrinsic value of things.

-> Also, why is there no article in front of "tradition" but there is "the" in front of "intrinsic value"?

I'm always lost whenever I come across sentences like these which seem to go against the parallel rule in English grammar. I would greatly appreciate any help on this.

  • 2
    The $70,000 was comprised of several different sorts of penalty.and one instance of restitution. (Restitution is uncountable in this context.)
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


In terms of 1., I would think that there in not just one penalty but multiple ones since multiple laws may have been broken. In other words, the amount constitutes multiple fees. "Restitution" seems to me to be an uncountable noun. Perhaps you restitute multiple customers, but the act of restitution is one.

As for 2., there is a difference in meaning between "the tradition" and "tradition". The former refers to a specific tradition. For example, the liberal tradition, the conservative tradition. The latter, without "the", is not specific.

Similarly, "the intrinsic value" is a value that is intrinsic, so it's a specific value, therefore it requires "the".

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