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    #1

    Using indefinite article with first names

    In literature, once in a while I come across a strange (or so it seems to me) usage of indefinite articles with first names of people. Here's an example from one of the Harry Potter books: "Treating a hurt and bewildered Hermione with an icy sneering indifference."

    Thus, my question: what are the rules for using articles with first names? Is the use of the definite article ever possible?

    Thank you!


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    #2

    Re: Using indefinite article with first names

    Quote Originally Posted by julianort View Post
    In literature, once in a while I come across a strange (or so it seems to me) usage of indefinite articles with first names of people. Here's an example from one of the Harry Potter books: "Treating a hurt and bewildered Hermione with an icy sneering indifference."

    Thus, my question: what are the rules for using articles with first names? Is the use of the definite article ever possible?

    Thank you!
    Good first question, Julia?, Julian?, Juliano?, J. A real stumper! It's got me, at present, thoroughly flummoxed.

    [Going off into the corner for some serious cogitation]

  1. stuartnz's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Using indefinite article with first names

    Quote Originally Posted by julianort View Post
    In literature, once in a while I come across a strange (or so it seems to me) usage of indefinite articles with first names of people. Here's an example from one of the Harry Potter books: "Treating a hurt and bewildered Hermione with an icy sneering indifference."

    Thus, my question: what are the rules for using articles with first names? Is the use of the definite article ever possible?

    Thank you!
    I'm not a language teacher, and so the technical explanation is a long way beyond my abilities, but I can say with certainty that in the phrase you quoted, "the" would be equally acceptable. "Treating the hurt and bewildered Hermione with an icy sneering indifference." woud work as well and sound as right to most native speakers' ears, I'm sure. As to why, that's one for the professionals.


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    #4

    Another example of article "a" with first names

    Here's another example, this one is different and makes a lot more sense now:

    "Patrolling officer Jones arrested a man who said that his name was George Bush. After searching through the city's database, the officer discovered a George Bush with outstanding arrest warrants."

    Clearly, "a" in this example is similar, if not identical, to the use of "one" in similar context, e.g., "discovered one George Bush with outstanding warrants," meaning "some guy whose name happens to be George Bush."

    But I am still perplexed about the use of "a" in my Hermione example above...

  2. engee30's Avatar
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    #5

    Post Re: Using indefinite article with first names

    Quote Originally Posted by julianort View Post
    "Treating a hurt and bewildered Hermione with an icy sneering indifference."

    Thus, my question: what are the rules for using articles with first names? Is the use of the definite article ever possible?

    Thank you!
    In my humble opinion, this use of indefinite article is like referring to any other person of Hermoine sort, with all her typical characteristics considered.
    Similarly:
    Mr Scotts is a genius in physics at our institute. Could he be another Einstein?


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    #6

    Re: Using indefinite article with first names

    A proper noun, as in someone's name, when preceded by the indefinite article, indicates that the bearer of the name is in a temporary state.
    Hermione in tears - a tearfu Hermione - is a temporary state, to be superseded by the Hermione we are used to, all serious and studious.
    Last edited by David L.; 24-Mar-2008 at 14:57.

  3. Neillythere's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Using indefinite article with first names

    Hi DavidL:

    How would you similarly characterise the corresponding use of the definite article, as in "Treating the hurt and bewildered Hermione with an icy sneering indifference.", as per stuartnz's comment?

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    #8

    Re: Another example of article "a" with first names

    Quote Originally Posted by julianort View Post
    Here's another example, this one is different and makes a lot more sense now:

    But I am still perplexed about the use of "a" in my Hermione example above...

    You needn't be perplexed. In your initial example, the article and the person's name are separated by adjectives, but you also have examples with the article directly preceding the name.
    a couple more examples...

    An injured Don is still a better player than most of the other players.
    A Sergei is probably Russian, and a Svend is probably Scandinavian.

    2006


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    #9

    Re: Using indefinite article with first names

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    A proper noun, as in someone's name, when preceded by the indefinite article, indicates that the bearer of the name is in a temporary state.
    Hermione in tears - a tearfu Hermione - is a temporary state, to be superseded by the Hermione we are used to, all serious and studious.

    This is inspiring. On the example of the same line of characters, I guess it is possible:

    One lovely spring day on Hogwarts' grounds
    to come across a warm-hearted Snape
    who's making gleeful sounds,
    While watching the cunning Malfoy
    Perform a Wronsky feint, oh boy.

    I think I got it. Thanks David L!


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    #10

    Re: Using indefinite article with first names

    With 'the', it becomes as much a statement of fact as
    Treating the sprained ankle with a warm compress.

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