I work in payroll dept and received a query in a email that some XYZ wanted to know his/her sick balance.

Now, in response I am confused between two sentences:

  1. You have a sick balance of 10 hours.


  1. You have sick balance of 10 hours.

2nd one seems right to me, but not sure.

Could someone please explain this to me?

  • 1
    As "balance" is a count noun it needs an article of some sort. I'm not entirely clear how your "sick balance" works, but option 2. is not strictly grammatical for the reason I've given.
    – WS2
    Jan 20, 2018 at 15:46
  • 1
    What @WS2 said. But I don't know exactly what OP means by "sick balance" - it just makes me think of the UK Civil Service some decades ago, where the semi-official policy was to allow people to "self-certificate" themselves as "too sick to go to work" for up to 14 days per year. Which policy was seriously abused by many people simply treating it as an extra couple of weeks holiday per year, so the bosses had to change tack. So I'd rather consider the similar construction Your bank account has a negative balance of £50, where no native speaker would normally discard the article. Jan 20, 2018 at 15:58
  • A "sick balance" here would be the number of sick days which the employee has available to take with pay. Jun 3, 2019 at 22:05

1 Answer 1


My answer is to this question is: "You have a sick balance of 10 hours." I have a simple rule in play for this sort of question. Which is if the conjunction "a" is taken out of the sentence, would the sentence stand on its own? For example: "You have a balance of 10 hours" or "You have balance of 10 hours". Which one sounds best? The first one does. Ultimately, the later seems wrong on account of the "a" missing. I choose "You have a sick balance of 10 hours"

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