Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

While introducing oneself, which should one say, "I am an account manager, or "I am the account manager"?

share|improve this question
    
Why abbreviate? –  Barrie England Oct 3 '11 at 17:52
1  
Or capitalize? I just edited the abbreviation and the capitalization out, since they are immaterial. (@Barrie, looks like you can edit now. Congratulations!) –  Daniel Oct 3 '11 at 18:04
    
Thank you. Such power takes a little getting used to. –  Barrie England Oct 3 '11 at 18:08
    
If one is THE account manager, however, it's quite likely that one's title is in fact "Account Manager", and then one should say "I am the Account Manager" rather than "I am the account manager". –  phoog Oct 3 '11 at 18:15
    
Emphasising the first sound of each word, of course, to replicate the capital letters. –  Barrie England Oct 3 '11 at 18:40
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

If you are the only account manager within the context referenced, then you would say I am the account manager. If there are others beside yourself, you should say I am an account manager.

E.g. assume you are the only account manager in the company you work for. Someone is asking about the company, and she asks what your position is. Then you should say I am the account manager. Suppose that you then go to a party, and someone asks you what you do for work. In that case, you would say I am an account manager (giving your general occupation), or I am the account manager of [the company I work for] (giving the position you hold within your company).

share|improve this answer
2  
But someone could be the only account manager, and they're attending a party, and someone says, "What kind of work do you do?" In that case, you should say, "I am an account manager." –  phoog Oct 3 '11 at 17:55
1  
@phoog: The key is the context. "A/an (noun)" means "one (noun)". "The (noun)" means "the only (noun)". So if, from the context, you are the only account manager, then you are THE account manager, otherwise, you are ONE (i.e. AN) account manager. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Oct 3 '11 at 18:12
3  
@phoog - No, if they are attending a party and someone asks them what they do then the context is global, so they are no longer the (only) account manager, but an account manager. If they have a unique job, then they would use "the" in party coversation. e.g.: "I am the Pope." –  Joel Brown Oct 3 '11 at 18:12
    
Another example is if everyone knew that a specific account was involved. Then, if you were an account manager but you also managed that specific account, you could say "I am the account manager" to mean that you managed that specific account. –  David Schwartz Oct 4 '11 at 2:35
add comment

Both are correct depending on what you are trying to communicate.

"The" communicates "one." Thus, "the account manager" communicates that the organization has only one account manager, and you're it.

"A" and "an" communicate one thing from among multiple things. Thus, "an account manager" communicates a reference to multiple account managers, of which you are one.

Similarly. You can say "I saw a bear. The bear was angry." In this example, you saw one of multiple bears. The one bear that you saw was angry.

share|improve this answer
    
(1) You could be one of many account managers in a company and still reply with "I'm the account manager"; as, for example, if asked, "Which of you guys has the Thompsen account?" (2) "I saw a bear" does not imply you saw "one of multiple bears"; it merely says you saw a bear, perhaps by itself, perhaps in a sloth. –  jwpat7 Oct 4 '11 at 5:33
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.