• "I will take him as ward, if you wish"

Why the writer didn't use an article before ward?


2 Answers 2


ward is a role, broadly conceived. Guardian: ward, mentor : protege, leader: follower, etc. Articles are not used when the noun refers to the role.

He was the 40th president of the country. specific instance

He was elected president. elected to the role/position

He was appointed guardian to the child.

He took the child on as ward.

Note the use of the preposition as. It signals a role.

  • Thank you for your answer. I got confused because when I looked at the oxford dictionary, I didn't see if this word is countable or uncountable. Besides, there are other contexts where this word, ward, is used as countable, so they have put article, a, before. Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 13:36
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    Whether the noun is countable or non-count is not the only factor. These nouns are countable (wards, presidents). But when referring to the role no article is used. The preposition as is usually a good clue that the role is being referred to.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 13:41
  • So, if you put a before the word. Would something change? Such as: he worked as a teacher or as teacher? Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 14:26
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    @BavyanYaldo, that's an interesting example. With an article, like "a", it isn't really a role, it's a specific position. With just "as", it would be in the generic role of a teacher (which would have nothing to do with qualifications for teaching). So maybe a sentence like, "A group of parents set up a home school, with Johnny's mother as teacher." However, "He worked as teacher" would imply to most readers that you are talking about a specific occupation or position, so it would sound wrong.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 18:04
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    @BanyanYaldo: He worked as a teacher means his occupation was teacher. It was a job he held. But this would be different: Ms Jones, have you come before the school board today as teacher or basketball coach? There, the questioner wants to know what role or capacity the person is acting in.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 18:10

A circumstance when "ward" does take an article is

He became a ward of the state.
He went into foster care.

"Ward" is one of those legal terms which can get used, in what I term, a "flat" way, without articles.

"Ward", "guardian" "power of attorney" are examples.

As guardian your written permission is necessary...
He has power of attorney over all matters...

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