Excerpted from The New Yorker:

“It was a dark and stormy night,” begins Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel “Paul Clifford,” which goes on to invoke torrential rain, gusting wind, guttering lamplight, and rattling rooftops: weather as plot, setting, star, and supporting cast of what is, by broad consensus, the worst sentence in the history of English literature.

In my knowledge plot, setting and star are all countable nouns, so they should each add an a prior or a s after, but clearly they don't in this paragraph, so what happened?

1 Answer 1


There are several prepositions and prepositional phrases after which articles are not always required. As is one example, when it introduces a role, or a way of regarding something. Besides the example, you have as president; as payment; as punishment.

  • Is it OK both with or without articles?
    – CYC
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 1:13
  • It's grammatical, but the meaning may be different (though sometimes the difference is slight).
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Feb 15, 2016 at 10:46

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