4
  1. Tolerance should not be understood as an endurance of people whose characteristics differ from our own; rather, it should be understood as a readiness to respect and appreciate others, to fully grasp the value of other cultures, and to recognize the inalienable equal rights of all human beings.
  2. Tolerance should not be understood as the endurance of people whose characteristics differ from our own; rather, it should be understood as the readiness to respect and appreciate others, to fully grasp the value of other cultures, and to recognize the inalienable equal rights of all human beings.

I am thinking why there is an article before 'readiness' and 'endurance', considering that both endurance and readiness is uncountable according to the Collins dictionary.

In such a case, since readiness and endurance are a specific kind of thing as explained by what follows them, aka. "to respect and appreciate others" and "of people whose characteristics differ from our own", so 'the' is better than 'a' or 'the' if an article is a must here.

What's wrong with my thoghts?

  • 1
    It's entirely a stylistic choice whether to use an, the, or the "zero article" (nothing) in your context. None are inherently "better" or "worse" choices, and there wouldn't be any consensus as to possible different "shades of nuance". So just use whichever form you like best (for whatever reason; it's of no consequence). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 16 '18 at 15:47
  • @FumbleFingers Another great answer hiding out in the comment section! – Tashus Nov 16 '18 at 16:35
  • @Tashus: Another "hoary old chestnut" question which I'm 100% certain has been asked many times before on ELL. But yet again it's not easy to find earlier duplicates because they're asked in so many different ways. Someone else can go looking for this one! :) – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 16 '18 at 17:42
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As FumbleFingers says, it's entirely a choice of style, as both are correct. There is a subtle difference in nuance between using the definite and the indefinite article. "An endurance/readiness" suggests there is more than one kind of these things. "The endurance/readiness" suggests (as you say) a specific, or a singular kind of these things.

Both make sense -- and, since you define them so clearly, in the end both "an" and "the" mean the same thing to the reader. It's so subtle a difference that most people won't even notice.

That being said, my personal preference would be "the", because you do define the terms so precisely. It also reinforces your argument that there is one "correct" way to show tolerance in this context.

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  • In practice I doubt many people would consciously register / understand the indefinite article in OP's context as implying "there is more than one kind of these things" - any more than they'd understand A sense of panic washed over him as implying that he had his own "special kind of panic". But technically speaking the implication is there, I suppose. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 16 '18 at 17:47

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