The source.
I don’t understand why wariness, abstract and uncountable, did take article “a” before it? screen shot of the source

  • there was a wariness in her tone.
  • 1
    It's an optional article. It would be grammatical with or without the "a".
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 19:47
  • 1
    I was taught that with uncountable abstract noun we can’t put article unless it turned to be specific rather than in general. @J.R. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 19:52
  • 4
    @BavyanYaldo This is really a literary device. Although "wariness" is an abstract noun, by putting the article before it, the author is giving the sense that this is a specific and perhaps particularly notable wariness. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 20:18
  • 2
    I agree with Canadian Yankee. This was written this way for style and to evince a specific or notable wariness.
    – Nick
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 20:31
  • 4
    @CanadianYankee - I might paraphrase it like this: "There was a [certain] wariness in her tone."
    – J.R.
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


The indefinite article can be used to refer to slight quality or tendency, something just beginning to show itself or showing itself only slightly, or to a quality which is difficult to name or pin down, either because it is a mixture of things or ephemeral in nature.

There was an excitement in her voice.

She was not bubbling over with excitement, but a degree of excitement was present and detectable.

There was a certain something in her voice, but I can't say just what it was.

  • I can't say exactly why, but an excitement here doesn't sit very well with me. Nnot compared to sharpness, softness, tenderness, for example - all of which sound just fine to me with or without an article (and they also work with a different preposition in ... to her voice). Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 18:44

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