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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 it. What do you think? Do you agree with me? Thank you for taking the time to help me. All the best
Reply: It's completely grammatical. The zero article alternates with "the" in cases in which the noun phrase specifies a unique role. See Quirk et al. "A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language," p. 276 (section 5.42).
Reply From: Marilyn N Silva      click here to access email
 
Date: 18-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    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (19-Jul-2013)
  4. Re: A) chaplain    Charley Rowe     (18-Jul-2013)

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