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Hi Mr. Evans and everyone,

What's your take on the following writings?

"There are four main ideas in relapse prevention. First, relapse is a gradual process with distinct stages. ... Fourth, most relapses can be explained in terms of a few basic rules." (source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/)

Another example from MW dictionary website:

" The lure of such social acclaim helps some avoid relapse. Maia Szalavitz, Time, 29 Sep. 2021"

Why is it to appropriate to use relapse without "a" in front? I'm so confused.

Thank you.

Original Post

Hello, OSL, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

"Relapse" can be a count or a non-count noun.

@OSL posted:

"There are four main ideas in relapse prevention. First, relapse is a gradual process with distinct stages. ... Fourth, most relapses can be explained in terms of a few basic rules." (source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/)

Another example from MW dictionary website:

" The lure of such social acclaim helps some avoid relapse. Maia Szalavitz, Time, 29 Sep. 2021"

In the first paragraph, the first occurrence of "relapse" (which you didn't mark in bold) obviously does not take an article because the main noun is "prevention," but even there the sense of "relapse" is abstract and uncountable, meaning "the state or action of relapsing," as is also the case with the second occurrence of "relapse," where the term seems to be defined: "relapse" is a gradual process... Instead, in the final sentence "relapses" refers to instances of relapsing.

The abstract, non-count sense also appears in the second quote, where I think a gerund would also work finely:

- The lure of such social acclaim helps some avoid relapsing.

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator

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