In the movie "The Hobbit", Erlond tells Gandalf:

You are not the only guardian to stand watch over Middle-earth.

I'm not sure if there's any nuance with the use of the form to stand watch. If I were to say such a sentence, I'd say:

You are not the only guardian that is standing watch over Middle-earth.

Is there a difference in meaning between these two sentences?

1 Answer 1


The first form is more ambiguous in meaning. It could mean:

You are not the only guardian who has ever stood watch over Middle-earth.


You are not the only guardian currently standing watch over Middle-earth.

Your second version only has the second meaning.

  • Is the first form less often heard in spoken English compared to the other forms? I mean, would I sound like e.g. character from a book or more formal when using the first form compared to the other two forms? Aug 14, 2018 at 15:12
  • 1
    @PawełB - Your assumption is accurate, I think. Many things are uttered in Middle Earth in ways that you probably wouldn't hear at a pub or in a bus station.
    – J.R.
    Aug 14, 2018 at 15:27

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