“Oxford learners Dictionary” states that “relief” (at least when it means removal of anxiety/pain) is an uncountable noun. Then why do we use the indefinite article in this phrase? Are there any other phrases where “relief” requires an article?

2 Answers 2


"Relief" can mean the end of pain or discomfort (uncountable), or the thing that brought about that end (countable). It's used both ways.


The full Oxford Dictionaries entry includes the countable-noun meaning of 'relief':

Relief (noun)

1.1 count noun
A cause of or occasion for relief.
‘it was a relief to find somewhere to stay’

Relief (Oxford Dictionaries)

Its use with an article is shown, but not explained, in the Oxford Learner's Dictionary:

News of their safety came as a great relief.
It was a relief to be able to talk to someone about it.
What a relief!

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