previous next

ARTICLE. A omitted before nouns signifying a class or a multitude

A being more emphatic than with us, was sometimes omitted where the noun stands for the class, and might almost be replaced by the corresponding adjective. "If ever I were traitor," Rich. II. i. 3. 201 == traitorous. Similarly “And having now shown himself open enemy to Alcibiades.” N. P. 176. So, though we find "never a master" in the sense of "not one master," yet where the "never" is emphasized and has its proper meaning, "at no time," the a is omitted:

“Those eyes which never shed remorseful tear.

“In war was never lion rag'd so fierce.

“Never master had a page so kind.

“Was ever king that joy'd an earthly throne.

“'Twas never merry world since, &c.

On the other hand, in contrast to the example first quoted, when the "never" is omitted and an is emphatic, almost like one, it is inserted:

“My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear.

A is also omitted before collective nouns, such as "plenty," "abundance," &c., and therefore before "great number" in

“Belike you slew great number of his people.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: