Using indefinite article with first names

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julianort

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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!
 

riverkid

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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]
 

stuartnz

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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. :oops:
 

julianort

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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...
 

engee30

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"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?
 

David L.

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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.
 
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Neillythere

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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?
 

2006

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

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
 

julianort

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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!
 

stuartnz

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


To see if I've parsed this properly, an indefinite article suggests a temporary state, while the definite would be emphatic? Thanks for that!:-D
 

Neillythere

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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?

I do hope that Hermione's "hurt and bewildered" state was temporary rather than a statement of permanent fact?
 
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