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Source

The victory, within four days, was just reward for skipper Kohli's insistence on playing five bowlers. Kohli led the way with a superb 200.

We did not use was just a reward because was just reward has an idiomatic usage.What do you say?

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    Just as the meaning of "justice". Someone worked hard for something and finally earned it. Justice was served. – mathreadler Jul 26 '16 at 11:51
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    A better question is, "why not 'a just reward'?" – Todd Wilcox Jul 26 '16 at 14:11
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    Note that in the phrase "just reward", "just" intensifies the reward. By contrast, in the phrase "just a reward", "just" diminishes or belittles the reward. – GalacticCowboy Jul 26 '16 at 14:42
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    "just" as in "fair", not "just" as in "only" – OrangeDog Jul 26 '16 at 17:58
  • In general, when you encounter a word which makes no sense in some context, looking up all its definitions is a good practice. – Pilso Jul 27 '16 at 8:10
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The meaning of "just" here is adjectival: "well-merited", "well-earned". In short, he earned the reward, therefore the reward was "just".

I also half-expected an indefinite article there, but in another position:

The victory, within four days, was a just reward for skipper Kohli's insistence on playing five bowlers. Kohli led the way with a superb 200.

However, it seems like "reward" can be used as an uncountable noun, in which case there's no need for the article.

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Indeed, the Oxford Learner's Dictionary indicates that the noun can be used as [countable, uncountable], and quotes an example:

Winning the match was just reward for the effort the team had made.

  • 1
    Is it possible that just reward is a count noun with no article? – Alan Carmack Jul 26 '16 at 12:46
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    @AlanCarmack: A count noun can never appear without a determiner (including articles "the" and "a", and possessives like "your" and "my", and quantifiers like "much"). So if you consider "just reward" as a count noun then it cannot occur in the syntax used here. – user21820 Jul 26 '16 at 13:00
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    @AlanCarmack: Lol. This forum isn't a one-on-one contest. You asked a question in a comment. Anyone is free to reply. If someone else wishes to respond to either of us, they can too. Since you added to your comment... "hurricane ahead" and "stir in egg" both occur in the same kind of situation where it is arguably useful to shorten the phrase and naturally articles are the first to go, followed by the equative verb in the former. =) – user21820 Jul 26 '16 at 13:19
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    This answer could be greatly improved it it included the word "justice", and that in this context "just" is different from "only". If the OP confounded the two, this answer as it is now, might not clear it up enough. – vsz Jul 26 '16 at 13:28
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    @JAB: The purpose of this site is to help English language learners. My comments were in response to a comment by Alan that I deem unhelpful to beginners, so if you don't like them I think you're doing the learners here a disservice. I didn't post another answer for the obvious reason that my comments were not directly related to the question, but merely were meant to explain why CowperKettle's expectation of an article for a countable noun is correct. – user21820 Jul 27 '16 at 1:10
2

This usage of "just reward" is in parallel to the expression "just deserts."

"Just deserts" means "getting the comeuppance you rightfully deserve."

Losing his business was just deserts for his unethical practices.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/just_deserts

"Just rewards" is the complement -- getting the reward you rightfully deserve.

In both cases, "just" is used to refer to "justice."

"Just a reward" means "merely a reward."

The money was just a reward; the real payoff was the satisfaction.

I always used the spelling "just desserts," but I was corrected by Wiki.

http://grammarist.com/spelling/just-deserts-just-desserts/

  • If I say "he is just friend" instead of "a friend" then I am not belittling my friend, though both are grammatical? – Anubhav Singh Aug 14 '16 at 4:20
  • The expression "just a friend" means "merely or only a friend." That meay or may not be belittling, depending on the context. – Ann Aug 15 '16 at 11:23
  • The teenager was asked if the fellow she had been seen with was a beau. "Nah," she said, "he's just a friend." – Ann Aug 15 '16 at 11:31
  • In another context, the clerk in City Hall asked the couple who were applying for a marriage license, "Are you siblings, parent and child, first cousins, aunt and uncle, niece or nephew ... " The groom interrupted and said, "Oh, not at all. We're just friends." Probably one of these uses is intended to be more belittling than the other. – Ann Aug 15 '16 at 11:33

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