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Why is there no the before president and captain?

They elected him president.

She was made captain of the team.

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I've always taken the first example to have an elided "as". "They elected him as president." –  Mike Brown Jan 31 '12 at 3:53
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

The ‘Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English’ (LSGSWE) explains it thus:

When a predicative noun phrase names a unique role or job, either a zero article or the is used.

The is not normally found after words like elected (and re-elected) which show that someone has been appointed to an office. The LSGSWE’s own example is ‘Lukman was re-elected OPEC President in June.’ In other cases, however, it’s optional. The LSGSWE’s second example is: ‘Simon Burns is the chairman of the appeal board.’ That could equally well appear as ‘Simon Burns is chairman . . .’

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One also commonly uses the verb "To make" intransitively, meaning "to attain the rank of," e.g. "I made captain," "I finally made partner." –  Pete Wilson Jan 30 '12 at 11:04

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