structure: I stood guard


“I need you with me,” she said. “Don’t go away again.”

But I hadn’t gone away! I had been abducted!

I could feel the sleep pressing down on her.

“I need you with me,” she said. “I’m so afraid. I’m so afraid.”

It’s okay, I said. I’m here.

She rolled to the edge of the bed and looked down at me, her eyes glazed.

“Get me through tonight,” she said. “That’s all I need. Protect me. Don’t let it happen tonight. Enzo, please. You’re the only one who can help.”

I will, I said.

“You’re the only one. Don’t worry about that nurse; I sent her home.”

I looked over to the corner, and the crinkly old woman was gone.

“I don’t need her,” she said. “Only you can protect me. Please. Don’t let it happen tonight.”

I didn’t sleep at all that night. I stood guard, waiting for the demon to show his face. The demon was coming for Eve, but he would have to get past me first, and I was ready. I noted every sound, every creak, every change in air density, and by standing or shifting my weight, I silently made it clear to the demon that he would have to contend with me if he intended to take Eve.

(Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain)

I guess that guard is predicative for I and has no article because Enzo is the only guard. If he were one of many guards, the matrix would have been I stood a guard. (As in: Bill was head boy and Charlie was captain of Quidditch. Now Percy’s a prefect - Harry Potter book one, p99) Is this right, or is there other structure for the example?


Posted 2013-11-17T05:47:55.957

Reputation: 25 811


No - there are no corresponding expressions like stand captain or stand prefect. The verb to stand guard {over} is pretty much a "one-off". Although for semantic purposes you might best understand it as a paraphrasing of *I stood as/adopted the role of a guard*, that article never occurs in the actual idiomatic standard. It's not meaningfully subject to grammatical analysis at this level, any more than the related to stand watch [over].

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2013-11-17T06:25:08.530

@FumbleFingers There's actually a cluster here; I've heard the expression stand sentry as well. I'm pretty sure there's an archaic construction these are just relicts of (possibly related to the #23), but I'm not familiar enough with ME/EME to identify it. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- – 2013-11-17T07:34:11.530

2@chrylis: Agreed "one-off" was a bit of an overstatement. All I really meant was it's not a "productive" construction that could be used with a wide variety of words. Also, it seems to me stand guard, stand watch derive from the verb usages. But since there's no verb to sentry, that one's probably based on the fact that the nouns sentry, guard can be synonyms. It's not likely to work for many/any other words. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2013-11-17T14:50:32.207



The verb "stand", in this case, means to perform the duty and is a transitive verb, which has at least one object. You can find some examples in the dictionaries:

stand (v.) to perform the duty of or participate in as part of one's job or duty: to stand watch aboard ship. (from, meaning #27; you might have to expand to see this)

stand (v.) to perform the duty of <stand guard> (from M-W, transitive verb meaning #4a)

The word "guard" you indicate describes the kind/type of duty, not a person working on the duty. Therefore, "guard" in the sentence is uncountable and requires no article.


Posted 2013-11-17T05:47:55.957

Reputation: 458