In Grammar By Victoria

Articles of personal names

This article is the third in the series of materials on «Articles of the names of their own.» In this case, we will talk about the use of personal names of articles (articles with personal names). The general rule is the following: first and last names of people, pet names and nicknames are normally used without an article in the English language, even if they are accompanied by a descriptive definition (old, young, poor, dear, honest, etc.). For example: old Jacob, poor Crane, lucky Jessica, little Betty and others.

Nevertheless, we must consider a number of cases the use of articles with personal names. When we resort to the use of the indefinite article a personal name:

  1. If private noun refers to a family member or a person who has that name.

    A certain Safonov wants you on the phone. — Some Safonov asks you to phone.

    Alexander Mogilev comes from the Benois, and like a Benois is very talented. — Alexander Mogilev is a descendent of Benoit, and Benoit as any he’s very talented.

  2. When the personal names are countable nouns, they can be used with the indefinite article if:
    • name of artist, inventor, industrialist is necessary to refer to his works, labor, premium products:

      This small museum has a Picasso. — This small museum has a painting by Picasso.

      Mine is a Panasonic, not a Sony. — My (say, a camera) from Panasonic, but not Sony.

      The film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. — This film won an Oscar in the category «Best Foreign Film».

    • personal name defines the typical features of the bearer (not the person):

      Poor darling looks like a Cinderella. — The poor girl looks like Cinderella.

In these cases, you must use the definite article with the personal name:

  1. If there is a personal name, or limiting the definition of the situation:

    I met Joanna Rowling. — Do you mean the Joanna Rowling? (who wrote books about Harry Potter). I met JK Rowling. You mean that JK Rowling? (who wrote the Harry Potter books).

  2. If we use plural nouns to describe the whole family:

    The Coltons have a big house near the lake. — In Colton large house near the lake.

  3. The definite article is used with personal names, denoting the position title, job title:
    • the Queen of England (Queen of England)
    • the President of Ukraine (Ukrainian President)
    • the Secretary of State (Secretary of State)
    • the PR manager (Manager of Public Relations)
    • Peter the Great (Peter the Great)
    • Ivan the Terrible (Ivan the Terrible).

    But note that these same words in other combinations, as well as other vocabulary related to this group, is used without the article:

    • Queen Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth)
    • President Bush (President Bush)
    • Doctor Benton (Dr. Benton)
    • Professor Kerling (Professor Curling)
    • Captain Switson (Captain Svitson)
    • Mister Franklyn (Mr. Franklin).

Articles of personal names are not used in the company:

  1. Names of family members who take themselves members of this family to express kinship. Such nouns should be written with a capital letter:

    Hello, Papa! Hello, Mama! Is Baby still asleep? — Hello father! Hi, Mom! A child is still asleep?

    However, if there is due to the relationships outside the family, remembers the definite article.

  2. Handling:

    Well, young man, have you been drinking again? — Well, young man … You’re drunk again? Can I speak to you, professor? — Professor, can I talk to you?

This topic is closely related to the other as described in the articles that need to pay attention:

  • «Articles of concrete and abstract nouns»
  • «Article unique nouns»
  • «Article with proper names»
  • «Articles of geographical names»

After reading them, we recommend to pass the following test: «Test # 2 on the use of articles in the English language.»



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