Today I was writing an email calling somebody "eyewitness to" some event, but it was marked as incorrect and it was suggested I precede it with an article; i.e. an eyewitness, instead. But isn't my usage also proper, being an instance of a predicate adjective? I think I intuitively used the form I did, having a strong recollection of encountering "eyewitness" being used in the same manner.

  • 1
    Welcome! To best explain, can you edit the question to give your original sentence? Nov 16, 2021 at 22:37
  • No. It can be done, but it is not at all idiomatic. Compare this and this at the Corpus of Contemporary American English. Nov 16, 2021 at 23:18

1 Answer 1


Your answer is correct.

Eyewitness is being used in an uncountable form. Here it should be understood as ~ "in the category of eyewitness."

There are parallels in such examples as

“He was party to the contract”

“She was teacher to the older children and nurse to the younger ones.”

"He was successor to Ferdinand of Austria.",

"He was heir to a fortune" etc.

For examples in context, visit Google Ngrams for the search terms was witness to,was eyewitness to,was teacher to,was successor to,was heir to

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.