1. How is take free grammatical? Adverbs modify verbs, not adjectives. take free should be take freely. Correct?

  2. take free feels ungrammatical. Humans can't just take free. free must modify a noun. Example — Kids love to take free candy.

So, if the trust property is sold by the trustee without authority under the trust instrument, and the purchaser has provided some value for the transfer in good faith and without notice of the existence of the beneficiary’s equitable proprietary interest, the purchaser will take free of that proprietary interest.137 In such circumstances, the beneficiary still has a claim against the trustee for breach of trust.

Paul Davies. Equity Text Cases Materials 2019 3 ed. Page 56. Emboldings are mine.

Certain encumbrances may be revealed while the purchaser is checking the vendor’s title, but a range of other enquiries and inspections are also needed. As we shall see, many third-party rights will bind the purchaser whether he or she knows of them or not, but there are still some other rights which will not bind a purchaser who can show that they have not been discovered, despite the making of all the right enquiries (see–3). The purpose of making these inquiries is therefore twofold:

• to inform the purchaser about encumbrances; and
• to enable the purchaser to override (take free of) certain rights of which he or she is unaware.

Aruna Nair. Textbook on Land Law 2020 18 edn. p 69.

      Thus even the purchaser of an equitable interest in the property can take an interest free from an unregistered charge. For example, if X has a puisne mortgage (C(i)) over Blackacre, which has not been registered, and later the fee simple owner grants an equitable mortgage to Y, Y will take free of X’s rights. Thus, Y’s rights will take priority over X’s. If the estate has to be sold to pay back the sums due under the mortgages, the debt owed to Y will be paid first and X may find that there is not enough money to pay in full (see Chapter 23).

Aruna Nair. Op. cit. p 74.

Overreaching certainly cannot take place: LPA, ss 2(1)(ii) and 27(2) make it clear that overreaching depends upon there being two trustees. This means that we are thrown back on priority principles. In registered land, a purchaser will be bound if there is an entry on the register or an actual occupation overriding interest.247 Otherwise, the purchaser (once registered) will take free of the beneficial interests.248

Roger Smith, Property Law 2020 10 edn. p 357.

  • 2
    Read it as 'take free of'. The phrase 'take free of' in a property-law context is used to mean 'override' (as it says in Paul Davies' second bullet point.) In these examples purchasers take the property bought free of encumbrances, rights, beneficial interests, etc. Nov 6, 2021 at 8:50
  • Well-respected legal textbooks tend to be very carefully written, and may contain specialised usages, the knowledge of which should be part of the student's training, and surely reference materials will be available? Nov 6, 2021 at 10:32
  • It's a peculiar (and very rare) construction that only seems to occur in "legalese". It's not a valid construction in any other contexts, but in the examples cited here it looks as though to take is being used as "shorthand" for take ownership [of whatever the subject is purchasing]. And that "ownership" is what's being adjectivally described as free [of 3rd party rights, constraints, interests]. Nov 6, 2021 at 17:11
  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because it's about an unusual and uncommon "legalese" usage that has no real relevance to learning English as such. Nov 6, 2021 at 17:12
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers - If I'm paying a lawyer to do stuff that requires my informed decisions, or to prepare paperwork I am to sign, part of what I'm paying for is clear communication. I should not have to go on an English language website to decipher what I am sent. Indeed, I might turn out to have been mistaken to do so if there are problems later on. Nov 6, 2021 at 22:35

2 Answers 2


As other commenters have noted, "take free of" is legal jargon.

In response to the question of why this is even possible in English grammar, there are various syntactic ways in which an adjective (or adjective phrase) can occur within a verb phrase. Consider the more common expression "break free of" meaning "escape". Or consider "my face got hot" or "he left the room angry".


take free of:

to receive the rights of a negotiable instrument without the obligations of the seller who formed the contract

"A holder in due course takes free of claims and defences the consumer could otherwise raise against a seller for failure to perform."

The term is used in security interest law, which is very complicated.

take free of

In other words, to get the rights, and not the obligations.

(d) [Licensees and buyers of certain collateral.]

A licensee of a general intangible or a buyer, other than a secured party, collateral other than tangible chattel paper, tangible documents, goods, instruments, or a certificated security takes free of a security interest if the licensee or buyer gives value without knowledge of the security interest and before it is perfected. Cornell Law School

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