a/the night watchman

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VicNicSor

Banned
Russian
-- Just a minute, Van Houten. Somebody needs to guard this place tonight so it doesn't get trashed. How'd you like to be night watchman?
-- But I'm sleepy.
-- Oh, no problemo. Here's a nickel for the coffee machine.
(The Simpsons)

Is an article missing here because "night watchman" is a kind of unique title/role?
Thanks.
 
  • VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Yes, it makes it sound as though it's a unique title. It makes the job sound more appealing :)
    Thank you.

    Later, Bart (the speaker), when coming back and seeing the whole building has collaped, says:
    -- Milhouse, how could you let this happen? You were supposed to be the night watchman.

    Why is he using the article now?
     

    lordignus

    Senior Member
    British English
    At this point, it's not necessary to make the job sound appealing because he's already (reluctantly) taken the job (and failed miserably) so I guess it's back to using articles properly ;)

    To be honest, in both of the instances above, using the definite article "the" or no article at all works just fine. However, using the indefinite article "a" implies that there are/will be other night watchmen too - in the first case this would make the job sound less important/prestigious, and in the second they wouldn't be able to lay all of the blame on Milhouse ;)
     
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