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I saw a sentence written on some pamphlet of a restaurant and the sentence was like this:

  1. "Visit again and get a 20% discount on a beverage."

  2. "Visit again and get a 20% discount on beverages."

First question is what's the difference between the two sentences?

I am attaching a link here and request you to go through RegDwight's answer. He says in many cases where the indefinite article, a, is used we can replace it by any.

Based on his suggestion now look at the sentence 2 again:

  1. "Visit again and get a 20% discount on (a=)any beverage".

You see, now this sentence (3) where I have used any in place of a sounds okay to me. But if I read the sentence (1) with a, then it doesn't sound that okay. Why is it so?

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  • 2 sounds like you would get 20% off all drinks on your next visit
    – JMP
    Apr 29, 2017 at 9:49
  • Get a discount on a beverage... grammatically leaves a doubt as to whether it applies to ALL beverages. But Get a discount on any beverage or ...on beverages suggests that the discount is available on all of them.
    – WS2
    Apr 29, 2017 at 10:17
  • Neither of these sentences is sufficiently precise to know exactly what is meant. All we know is that the discount applies to what you can order to drink, not to what you eat. It might as well say "Ask your server for details".
    – TimR
    Apr 29, 2017 at 11:29
  • @WS2 : Well you say sentence (1) leaves a doubt. But if you go through RegDwight's answer he says we can substitute 'any' in place of 'a'. So by that logic this sentence 1 should be correct. Am i missing something ?
    – Brock
    Apr 29, 2017 at 12:52
  • 2
    @Brock: the answer in the link you've cited opens with a caveat: "If you insist on the rule being simple..." You should understand that to mean that what he says might apply most of the time, but not all of the time. a is not always interchangeable with any. It depends on context. There is no guarantee that you would get 20% discount on their top-shelf brandy, say.
    – TimR
    Apr 29, 2017 at 14:43

1 Answer 1

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It mainly differentiates in what the discount applies to. The versions all suggest different quantities of beverages as well as different variations.

  1. "Visit again and get a 20% discount on a beverage."

This sounds like visiting again will result in a discount on a specific beverage, though it could also be read as any beverage. It's unclear exactly what it's applying to, but we do know it's referring to a singular beverage, unlike the next sentence.

  1. "Visit again and get a 20% discount on beverages."

This sounds like it is a blanket discount on all beverages, i,e. if i were to purchase forty cokes, i'd get 20% off on all of them; additionally, if i were to purchase a coke and a sprite and a pepsi and a fanta, i'd get 20% on all of those too. So this one is unambiguously referring to any beverage, as well as more than one.

  1. "Visit again and get a 20% discount on any beverage."

This is a clearer, more specific version of the first sentence. We know the discount applies to one soda, and it can truly be any soda, not a specific one.

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