So I've actually come across this kind of sentences quite a lot, when we're describing the capacity in which the subject does something. For example, sometimes we say:

The vendor's solicitors will receive the deposit as agent for the vendor

I always thought, strictly grammatically speaking, the correct formulation was:

The vendor's solicitors will receive the deposit as an agent for the vendor

Are both correct? There seems to be a lot of inconsistency, as I've come across both formulations quite often.

  • 2
    Does this answer your question? Why do people omit the definite article? As you're focusing on a particular agent (though there may be others), the missing article here is more properly 'the'. But the null article (no article where the definite one might well be chosen), not just the zero article (no article where the indefinite one might well be chosen), is common in English. Where no loss of clarity ensues, it is usually acceptable (and can sound more clipped, professional). May 15, 2021 at 13:19
  • This link is actually really interesting and helpful -- thank you!!
    – Jason Ye
    May 16, 2021 at 14:11
  • You might (or might not) appreciate the discussion of the use of the indefinite article with non-count usages (eg 'He took a pride in his appearance'; 'She received a fine education in the classics'). May 16, 2021 at 15:21

1 Answer 1


The construction doesn't need the indefinite article; if anything it would be the definite article. However, the preposition as in this construction means "in their capacity of" and doesn't need any article at all. One can say

I'm doing this as chairman of the club

meaning that you are metaphorically donning your "Chairman" badge and acting in that [official] capacity, rather than just as a bod who thinks the deed should be done.

This is just the way this particular construction works.

Although they're not needed at all, there may be occasions when articles might be used. In my example, "as the chairman" is fine because there will only be one. Perhaps there are several vice-principals in a school, any of whom could act: "I'm doing this as a vice-principal" would be fine.

The problem with an agent in your example is that while the vendor might have more than one agent working for them, each doing their own task, for the purpose of receiving a deposit there really should be only one. So the agent means "the agent tasked with that job". However, not using an article at all avoids the difficulty in all cases where as means "in their capacity of".


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