The liberty vs liberty
What's the difference between the sentecnces
1 )Give me the liberty or give me the death.
2)Give me liberty or give me death.
As these have said, liberty and death are "uncountable." This just means these nouns, because they are ideas or emotions (like love or hate, joy or despair, wisdom or fortune), do not make sense plurally in this context: "the liberties" or "the deaths."
You must be careful though, because a lot of nouns are countable or uncountable (or verbs, even) depending on context. For example, if Mr. Henry, Esquire, had been talking about a specific liberty (like freedom of speech, or freedom to launch frozen chickens from a giant slingshot), he may have correctly used "the liberty". Although, because he was an excellent orator making a very emotional point, I'm pretty sure he would have said "this liberty!"
If, instead of simply "death", you or Patrick were discussing the expiration of something or someone else, then "the death" would have been correct. Such as, "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me the liberty of frozen-chicken-slinging or give me the death of Justice!"
I know what you're thinking; English is a weird and complicated language. That's very true, but its odd nuances are what give it life and variety. The only thing I can recommend to become comfortable with its oddities is to read A LOT of good, classic literature.
|link comment||answered Sep 15 '12 at 17:41 mysticete Contributor|
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