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Subject: A) chaplain
Question: Hello

I have just bought a novel, Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

There is a page about Jonathan Swift's life. There, I found a

sentence which I cannot analyze grammatically, no matter how

much I am scratching my head to come up with an answer. The

sentence is:

''At the age of thirty-one, Swift returned to Ireland as chaplain to a

lord justice.''

To me, this sentence is 100% wrong grammatically. It should be:

''At the age of thirty-one, Swift returned to Ireland as A chaplain to

a lord justice.''

Here is my reason: ''chaplain'' cannot be used without an ''A'' in

front of it because it is in singular and an ''A'' is needed in front of


What do you think? Do you agree with me?

Thank you for taking the time to help me.

All the best

Reply: I'm afraid I don't agree with you. Swift's grammar here is perfectly normal. I think perhaps the point you have overlooked is that someone who has his own chaplain will only have one: "chaplain to the X" is a unique position, whereas if Swift had written "as a chaplain to ..." it would suggest that the LCJ had a whole stable of chaplains!

Geoffrey Sampson
Reply From: Geoffrey Richard Sampson      click here to access email
Date: 19-Jul-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: A) chaplain    Nancy J. Frishberg     (19-Jul-2013)
  2. Re: A) chaplain    Steven Schaufele     (19-Jul-2013)
  3. Re: A) chaplain    Marilyn N Silva     (18-Jul-2013)
  4. Re: A) chaplain    Charley Rowe     (18-Jul-2013)

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