Which sentence makes sense, the first or the second?

  1. I am      legend.
  2. I am  a  legend.
  • 3
    Are you thinking of the film I am Legend and/or 1954 novel and asking yourself why it was called that? Both sentences make sense according to context. If I am talking about the movie it's 1); if I am boasting about myself it's 2). – Mari-Lou A Aug 24 '14 at 3:47
  • This is just an ELL question. The simple answer is it is normally "I am a legend." The other version is (let's put it this way) poetic or dramatic; basically "it's wrong" if you said that normally, in speech. – Fattie Aug 24 '14 at 11:17
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    @JoeBlow I was inclined to think ELL too, but "I am legend" is actually correct and means something distinct from "I am a legend". It's just not something you'd hear every day, like you wouldn't hear "I committed genocide" every day. Dramatic, yes, wrong, no. (Well, genocide would be wrong.) – Daniel Aug 25 '14 at 0:03
  • TBC, it's wrong in the sense that: it is not what he meant. Quite simply, he's trying to say "I am a legend", not "I am legend" (you have explained nicely what the latter means). – Fattie Aug 25 '14 at 8:22

Either works, but they have different meanings, and I am a legend is probably the one you want.

Legend (Dictionary.com) means:

1. a nonhistorical or unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical.

6. a collection of stories about an admirable person.

7. a person who is the center of such stories
"She became a legend in her own lifetime."

I am a legend would use definition 7 above, meaning that I am an amazing person.

I am legend would use definition 1 or 6 above, and would mean that I embody unverifiable history or myth, that my whole existence is shrouded in fable. This isn't a normal thing to say. While this concept is too stilted or dramatic for usual speech, there is a 1954 novel and a 2007 movie called I Am Legend, along these very lines.

It's confusing whether you meant to ask about a vs. an, since the question doesn't include this debate, but you should never say I am an legend, as a is always used before a consonantal sound.


The phrase

I am legend

is a case of the use of legend as a collective noun.

For example of such cases
  • Legend has it that your orgasm lasts an hour.
  • You are legend, in office-talk about your record.
  • She is orgasm, because she makes every man in the office get an instant boner.
  • She is honey, delectable and sweet.
  • I am furniture to my boss. He uses the electronic roster to tell me what to do, without telling me what to do.
  • Soil is essential to the growth of plants - well irrigated, aerated and nutrient-absorbent soil.
  • I am Revolution, Evolution, Convolution and Truth. No one comes to the gods but by me.

Sorry for the pornographic phrases, with which many might be familiar, to tickle your mind.

  • 1
    Good Lord! Someone rate this answer "X". – Fattie Aug 24 '14 at 11:19
  • 1
    I am 'sexually frustrated' – Pogrindis Aug 24 '14 at 13:07

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