if there is a shortfall in something, there is less of it than you need or expect (Oxford)

There is an article before shortfall, an abstract noun. We don’t use the article in my own language and the word is an abstract, so it’s hard to understand why the article is on the position. Would you let me know?

1 Answer 1


The usage of the indefinite article doesn't depend from the fact the noun is abstract or not. I can say "They are facing an expected $10 billion shortfall in revenue." in the same way I can say "159 people died in a disaster happened in North Europe."

The indefinite article is used when referring to someone or something for the first time. After, the can be used. For example, after "They are facing an expected $10 billion shortfall in revenue." I can say "The shortfall is caused by […]."

  • 2
    Shortfalls are also countable, which might figure in. Last year we had shortfalls in wheat and corn, plus a shortfall in rice. No problem with that sentence.
    – J.R.
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 10:47
  • Even in the case the noun is uncountable, I could use the definitive article, as in "the beauty of the sunset." I was going to say something about countable nouns, but then I thought that in general I cannot say "articles are not used with uncountable nouns."
    – apaderno
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 11:05

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