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Is is correct to write: 'Author Martin Amis describes...', or should we use the article 'the' in front of 'author'?

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3 Answers 3

"The" is not required.

There are many examples where a profession is prefixed to a name. For example:

Driver Lewis Hamilton came in first once again.

However, I'm quite sure that it is context dependent. For example, let us say we are talking about your author describing a door.

Author Martin Amis describes the door as unbreakable.

is slightly different to

The author, Martin Amis, describes the door as unbreakable.

So pick whichever one you need.

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Both are possible, but I think the difference is one of formality. Author Martin Amis might be found in a popular newspaper, but a piece of academic prose would be more likely to refer to the author Martin Amis, assuming it wasn’t enough simply to write his name alone.

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I agree here, but Kate's point is valid. I'd not use 'The sheep Dolly' / 'Sheep Dolly' as an example because she's probably as much 'Dolly the Sheep' as Shaun is 'Shaun the Sheep' and Donald isn't 'Donald the Duck'. There seems to be a rule-of-thumb (I'm sure there are exceptions) that humans can take the article or leave it ((The) author Steven Goldin) except when it's a title (King John), animals need the article (The racehorse Arkle), and inanimates are mixed (Hurricane Sandy but The frigate 'Unicorn'). Proper names are part of the chaos: Lake Victoria, but the River Thames. –  Edwin Ashworth Nov 30 '12 at 17:55
    
Thinking a little further - there seems to be a conferring of respect when the is used before a profession - the architect, Robert Sykes but dustman Robert Sykes. This is perhaps not the case with the outlaw Jesse James. –  Edwin Ashworth Dec 1 '12 at 9:23
    
@Edwin Ashworth. It is possible to make mischief by playing around with articles in such cases, in a way that writers in ‘The Economist’ sometimes seem to do. They are capable of referring to ‘Edward Heath, a former prime minister’ (although not an authentic example). –  Barrie England Dec 1 '12 at 9:30
    
There's a political protocol as well when it comes to whether an expression should be considered titular or in apposition. Princess X but Y, Princess ... . President A but Mr B. the Prime Minister. I think we had to call the Queen's late mum 'Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother' too. –  Edwin Ashworth Dec 1 '12 at 21:37
    
@Edwin Ashworth. To the inner circle, she was always just Queen Elizabeth. Elizabeth II is The Queen, capital T. –  Barrie England Dec 2 '12 at 7:46

It's actually a property of a word whether it can be used this way or not. Compare:

Author Kate Gregory recommends C++ AMP because ...

and

Sheep Dolly was cloned...

Author can be anarthrous and sheep can't. Just about every profession a person can hold is ok to use without "the" and as for all the other nouns in English, I don't think there's really a rule. Off the top of my head, all the examples I can find are nouns describing something a person is. I mean that nouns like table, blizzard, whisper, and so on can't be used like this, while schoolboy, housewife, candidate, and so on all can. But I'm not sure that's a rule, it might just be that my imaginary sentence generator is slow this morning.

Oh:

Hurricane Sandy swept into New York

Not sure why that's ok and Sheep Dolly isn't.

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1  
'Hurricane Sandy swept into New York' is a headline, and articles are frequently dropped in headlines. If Sheep Dolly appeared in a headline it, too, could be anarthrous: 'Sheep Dolly Dies'. –  Barrie England Nov 30 '12 at 16:45
    
Agreed that both headlines and newspaper-quoting style are muddying my "sounds right" sense, but "According to X, something" or "As far as X is concerned, something" both feel ok with Profession Name and Hurricane Sandy, but wrong with Sheep Dolly. –  Kate Gregory Nov 30 '12 at 16:48
    
'Hurricane Sandy swept into New York' is the way you'd probably say it in ordinary conversation, as well as being headlinese - although I'd expect sweeps. Ok, in conversation, you might well change 'swept into' to reached or hit, but that's non-germane. –  Edwin Ashworth Nov 30 '12 at 17:58

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