(a?) wool cap pulled down, (a?) scarf tight [omit article?]

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Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
He strode down Newbury Street, wool cap pulled low, scarf tight around his ears and the rest of him buried deep in his down jacket

Source: Alone, Lisa Gardner
Background: Boddy was bracing himself against gusts of wind down the street on a January morning.

I notice that it's common to omit articles before nouns (wool cap, scarf) after the main sentence (He strode down Newbury Street). I'd like to know if this kind of omission is limited to literary works. Is it fine for causal writing or news reports?
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It's a very common usage, and it is not necessarily an article that is omitted.
    It could be, but it could be some other determiner - for example, "his".
    He ran home, (his) shoes squelching through the mud.
    She stood on the bridge, (her) hair streaming in the wind.

    It is not limited to literary works, and is fine for casual writing, news reports, normal conversation.


    Senior Member
    English & Swahili - East Africa
    It can be a very effective way of writing, by drawing a word picture rather than writing a wordy essay. I love the response of the Duke of Wellington when he received word that an elderly man had been caught in the act with a housemaid in Hyde Park one winter morning:
    "Seventy years old? Gal eighteen? Snow on the ground? Gad, sir, it makes one proud to be an Englishman!"
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