May I know which one of these is the correct answer.

  1. As the mother of a child
  2. As a mother of a child

I have seen both phrases used. However, a child only has one mother, therefore I believe the phrase "As the mother of a child " is correct. However, I have seen both phrases used in many newspaper articles. May I know the difference?

Similarly, these two phrases are also used. However, a football club only has one manager. Therefore, why do people use the second phrase.

  1. He is the manager of a football club.
  2. He is a manager of a football club.
  • 2
    It depends on the context of the utterance. – Lawrence Jul 7 '17 at 22:28
  • It depends on context and who is speaking. – Mari-Lou A Sep 6 '17 at 5:04

Either can be used correctly.

1. As the mother of a child: implies a specific relationship to the object. She is "the" mother of "that" child (or whichever child is being referenced or talked about in the context of the conversation).

2. As a mother of a child: implies that she is a mother of a child, with no specific relationship to the object. She is "a" mother of "some" child.

Tom22 was right in his comments but in spoken or written English the difference is so subtle that either of these are correct.

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  • I got this phrase from an article "as the mother of a 17-year-old", why is "the" used instead "a", they are talking about some "17-year-old". If someone asks me about my occupation. Do I say "I am the/a manager of a post office". – MrT Jul 7 '17 at 22:57
  • Either option at the end of your comment is acceptable. You can say "I am the manager of a post office" or "I am a manager of a post office". The difference is subtle. But the second one implies there could be other managers, since you are not "the" manager at a post office, just "a" manager. Does that help understand? – Kace36 Jul 7 '17 at 23:03
  • Oh and as for the first part of your comment, the article could have written it either way. Using "a" in that case would have been acceptable. They just chose to use "the". – Kace36 Jul 7 '17 at 23:05
  • "the post office" is a bit of a special case as there is one 'brand' of post office. I'm not so sure I agree with Kace36 in general though. If you were to say "I am the manager of the football club" and the person hearing didn't know Which football club, it would be confusing to them ... they would wonder if they were suppose to know which one etc... it would not be a good way to describe your career role generally. My 2cents – Tom22 Jul 7 '17 at 23:23
  • 1
    A person has only one biological mother, but a person can have more than one mother during a lifetime (or even at the same time, depending the sense of the word). This is another way in which "a" can be different from "the". – Drew Jul 8 '17 at 0:12

It's a matter of what you consider to be the noun phrase that the article is associated with.

  • If it's "mother", then your interpretation holds. The child has only one mother, so use "the".

  • If it's "mother of a child", then your interpretation doesn't hold. There are lots of people who are mothers of children, and the expression refers to only one of them. In this case, use "a".

The logic regarding the manager example follows the same pattern.

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