"The victory, within four days, was just reward" - why not "was just a reward"?




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?

Anubhav Singh

Posted 2016-07-26T09:30:07.777

Reputation: 3 391

7Just as the meaning of "justice". Someone worked hard for something and finally earned it. Justice was served. – mathreadler – 2016-07-26T11:51:51.497

4A better question is, "why not 'a just reward'?" – Todd Wilcox – 2016-07-26T14:11:22.707

4Note 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 – 2016-07-26T14:42:24.153

2"just" as in "fair", not "just" as in "only" – OrangeDog – 2016-07-26T17:58:23.287

In general, when you encounter a word which makes no sense in some context, looking up all its definitions is a good practice. – Pilso – 2016-07-27T08:10:38.067



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.


Posted 2016-07-26T09:30:07.777

Reputation: 36 949

I would like to edit to specify Oxford Learner's Dictionary because it is substantially different from the "ODO," for example. Oftentimes these learners dictionaries are way oversimplified and dumb downed. You might respond that only the learners dictionary specifies that reward here is a non-count noun. And I might ask: is there any meaningful difference between the two? Also, can we use reward in the OP's sentence w/o the modifier just? If so, would it be a non-count or count noun? In fact, are you sure that just reward is a non-count noun?

– Alan Carmack – 2016-07-26T12:43:21.123

1Is it possible that just reward is a count noun with no article? – Alan Carmack – 2016-07-26T12:46:08.890

2@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 – 2016-07-26T13:00:38.213

By the way, the use of "reward" as an uncountable noun is attested since the 17th century, and can be seen in various translations of the Hebrew scriptures such as at Deut 10:17, Psa 15:5, 19:11, including the KJV, the ASV and Darby's version. – user21820 – 2016-07-26T13:06:50.060

Actually @user21820 there are many times when a singular count noun can be used without a determiner. 'He is captain of the ship', 'Dog eats mouse', 'hurricane ahead', 'stir in egg, et al. I am not asking the question for my benefit, but for that of CK (CowperKettle). – Alan Carmack – 2016-07-26T13:08:51.947

@AlanCarmack: The first is used as a title; different grammar. Same for "king" and "queen". The kind of article dropping in "Dog eats mouse" is found mainly in news headings, and is not grammatically proper. – user21820 – 2016-07-26T13:11:43.197

@user21820 Great, you seem to "know all the answers." As a matter of fact, so do I. My question was directed specifically to CowperKettle. Perhaps you could let CK come up with a response. – Alan Carmack – 2016-07-26T13:15:29.497

1@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 – 2016-07-26T13:19:46.127

4This 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 – 2016-07-26T13:28:07.440

1For a discussion of English usage, the pretty graphs about "countable nouns" etc might be useful. But to the current question by a language learner, they are wildly tangential to the question asked. – IMSoP – 2016-07-26T16:05:35.580

I admit to all the possible insuffiencies. Feel free to post add-on answers, it is welcomed here! – CowperKettle – 2016-07-26T16:43:30.500

1@user21820 Not forum but QA site. Discussions in comments are secondary to the purpose of the site and are in fact undesirable if they become extended as this one seems to. – JAB – 2016-07-26T17:46:36.927

3@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 – 2016-07-27T01:10:11.970

If I say "he is just friend" instead of "a friend" then I am not belittling my friend, though both are grammatical? – Anubhav Singh – 2016-08-14T04:20:23.003


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.


"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.



Posted 2016-07-26T09:30:07.777

Reputation: 176

If I say "he is just friend" instead of "a friend" then I am not belittling my friend, though both are grammatical? – Anubhav Singh – 2016-08-14T04:20:40.363

The expression "just a friend" means "merely or only a friend." That meay or may not be belittling, depending on the context. – Ann – 2016-08-15T11:23:04.733

The teenager was asked if the fellow she had been seen with was a beau. "Nah," she said, "he's just a friend." – Ann – 2016-08-15T11:31:24.173

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 – 2016-08-15T11:33:26.330