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.

Possible Duplicate:
“To be elected chairman” vs. “to be elected the chairman”
Omission of “the” in “elected him president” and “made captain”

Dr. Peter Spence, __ headmaster of the school, told us, “a fifth of pupils here go on to study at Oxford and Cambridge.”

Does it matter whether I add a "the" before "headmaster" here?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Matt Эллен, jwpat7, kiamlaluno, waiwai933 Aug 19 '12 at 4:52

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Is Dr Spence incidentally the headmaster? Or the headmaster's name happens to be Dr Peter Spence? –  Kris May 16 '12 at 7:46
    

1 Answer 1

It is possible to omit the definite article when a noun phrase names a particular role or job and when it is the complement (or subject predicative) of a copular verb such as be, so we can certainly say, for example, He was headmaster of Hogwarts. When the noun phrase is, as in your example, the subject of a clause, the omission of the definite article is more doubtful. As there is no harm in including it, you might as well use it. If you omit of the school, as you might want to, the definite article is obligatory in most contexts.

share|improve this answer
    
So there is no definite answer to definite article question then. –  Kris May 16 '12 at 7:41
1  
@user20908: Well, I could, I suppose, just have answered 'No'. –  Barrie England May 16 '12 at 8:52

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