Should there be an article in a phrase "a certain writer's skills"?

In phrases like this, is an article a part of a noun or a noun modifier ("writer's" in this case)?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Nigel J, Edwin Ashworth, JJJ, jimm101, Bread Apr 6 '18 at 0:32

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  • What writer did you have in mind? – Lambie Apr 5 '18 at 13:02

"A certain writer's skills" is parsed as "{A certain writer}'s skills", and means "The skills of a certain writer".

"Certain writer's skills", with no article, is parsed as "Certain {writer's skills}", and means roughly "Certain of the skills that writers have/use/need".

Incidentally, "a certain writer's skill", singular, would be ambiguous between the two readings; some context would be needed in order to tell whether the article "a" relates to one writer or to one skill.

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