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I am having difficulty deciding whether the definite article is required in the following sentence.

An indicator of a strong character is (the) person’s ability to compliment the achievements of others.

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    You need some kind of article. Zero article will not work there. Oct 17, 2019 at 14:08
  • Did you mean complement or compliment? Oct 17, 2019 at 14:19
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    You need the indefinite article "a" (where "a person's" is equivalent to "one's" in this context). Edit: Looking at it again, I guess it really depends on the context. If what precedes is a discussion of a specific kind of person, then the definite article is more appropriate. But "an indicator of a strong character" seems to imply we're talking about people in general. Oct 17, 2019 at 14:19
  • @WeatherVane Corrected :) Oct 17, 2019 at 14:22
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    Replace person's with people's and you can remove the article. But you have to use an article in front of singular count nouns in most constructions (including this one). Oct 18, 2019 at 3:36

3 Answers 3

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Certainly an article of some sort is required here, and I personally prefer a to the. But you can easily avoid the problem:

An indicator of a strong character is the ability to compliment the achievements of others.

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I think either a or the is required in the context. If you do not use an article , the sentence becomes ungrammatical

An Indicator of a strong character is a / the person' s ability to compliment the achievements of others.

I thiink it can be simplified as:

An indicator of a strong character is a/ the person's ability to compliment others' achievements.

If you want to talk about persons in general you have to use the article ** a**. or if you want to talk about a particular person you have to use the article ** the**

I think the use of definite article restricts the general sense.and I tend to use a in the sentence

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It is required.

In English, we have what are called noun phrases, and as described by this source:

In normal writing, nouns nearly always feature in noun phrases. It is rare to find a noun functioning by itself (i.e., without any modifiers) in a sentence.

Nouns are rarely used by themselves in noun phrases, a notable exception being when we use them as subjects when talking about the attributes of categories:

Boys are great!
Life is tough.
Drugs are a problem.

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