Article, To omit, or not to omit, a (an) and the?

Article, omission of To omit, or not to omit, a (an) and the?

Omission of the definite or indefinite article before a noun or noun phrase in apposition to a name is a journalistic device, e. g.

  • Clarissa, American business woman, comes to England (Radio Times) 
  • Nansen, hero and humanitarian, moves among them (The Times)

It is more natural to write an American business woman, the hero and humanitarian.
Similarly, when the name is in apposition to the noun or noun phrase, and the article is omitted, the effect is of journalistic style, e. g.
  • NUM President Arthur Scargill 
  • Best-selling novelist Barbara Cartland
  • Unemployed labourer William Smith
Preferably write: The NUM President, The best-selling novelist, An unemployed labourer (with a comma before and after the name which follows).
After as it is possible to omit a or the, e. g.
  • As manipulator of words, the author reminded me of X. Y.
  • The Soviet system could no longer be regarded as sole model for Communism everywhere

It is preferable not to omit these words, however, except where the noun or noun phrase following is treated as a kind of generic mass noun, e. g.
  • The vivid relation between himself, as man, and the sunflower, as sunflower (D. H. Lawrence)


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