Why don't we use any articles before the countable noun "chairman" in the following sentence?

Potts was appointed chairman of the education committee.


Camera was invented by X.

I searched the Internet and came across some rules, but I wasn't able to put these particular ones into any categories.

And I know that we don't use any articles when we use possessive adjectives, e.g.

This is my book.

But again I didn't see this rule in the websites I surfed. I would appreciate it if you could link me to a good reference.


closed as too broad by tchrist, Edwin Ashworth, andy256, phenry, anongoodnurse Feb 2 '15 at 20:52

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    Collins Cobuild have produced a 100+ page monograph on the usages of the articles in English. You may need to order it from an internet supplier, and it may be out of print. // Just one facet: The television is broken (article with count-noun usage) but Television seems to be getting more and more biased towards pro-badger groups (mass-noun usage) (though I know there are exceptions to this rule-of-thumb). – Edwin Ashworth Jan 30 '15 at 12:39
  • The articles and possessive pronouns are two subsets of determiners (not adjectives). Determiners specify the context of the noun they attach to in some way (unlike adjectives, which mention an attribute of the referent). 'The my book' and 'That her book' are probably over-specified. 'A my book' is not used; 'a book of mine' is idiomatic. Wikipedia's article on English Determiners gives more 'rules' but without much explanation: Combinations of determiners Determiners can be used in certain combinations. Common examples are listed below: ... – Edwin Ashworth Jan 30 '15 at 12:52

You certainly do need an article with The camera was invented by XYZ

As regards your first example, the article is optional. You could say Potts was appointed the chairman..., but it is perhaps more usual to leave it out.

You have no need of an article where you use a possessive pronoun.

I'm afraid that as I am a native speaker I have no references to which I can link you.

  • Why the camera as opposed to a camera? We are talking about camera as a concept here, not some specific camera? Just trying to understand – Sejanus Jan 30 '15 at 13:20
  • That is why you need the. If you said a camera it would mean that X invented just one camera. But if the person concerned invented cameras in general, it would be correct to say that they invented the camera. The in this instance refers collectively to all cameras. – WS2 Jan 30 '15 at 13:33

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