Donald Trump, a 71 year old businessman, was chosen ____ President of the United States.

The answer is zero article, and the justification is that we should use zero article before job, title and honor. But if I listened correctly, in 2:53 ofthis Youtube video where President Obama addressed the British Parliament, it is clear that Speaker Bercow said "the" President of the United States instead.

So please can anyone help me out here?

  • 2
    It's complicated!
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 3:25
  • 1
    I would fill the blank in your first sentence with "as".
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 3:33
  • Earlier in the very same quote he's called "a ... businessman", using the indefinite article, so clearly there's no strict rule that zero article is always used before jobs (or titles or honors).
    – The Photon
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 4:33
  • @The Photo Good observation. What about this specific case, do you think both "the" and "zero article" are correct?
    – jxhyc
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 4:44
  • 1
    If you're referring to a person by title and name then you don't use "the" (e.g., "President Obama will speak to Parliament."), but if you're referring to them by title/job only then it is common to say "the" (e.g., "This is the President of the United States.").
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Jul 19, 2020 at 4:47

2 Answers 2


In English these titles may correctly be preceded by articles: “Donald Trump is the President of the United States,” or “The Speaker of the House is third in the line of presidential succession.” Usage of the definite article may serve to emphasize the singularity, eminence, privileges, or authority of the position/title; it can also often signal a discussion of the duties and powers associated with the office per se, rather than a particular holder of the office.

However, for brevity and in speech, it is grammatically fine—maybe even preferable—to omit definite articles when you are talking about a title someone holds, or has received: “Elizabeth was crowned [the] Queen of England over half a century ago,” “Donald Trump has been [the] President for almost four years.” This would generally be the usage when the subject of the sentence is the person currently or previously holding the title rather than the title itself.

The example you give sounds awkward with or without the definite article because American speakers would typically say “elected [the] President” rather than “chosen [the] President”. In such a sentence “chosen” would sound more natural with a helping preposition: for instance, “chosen as [the] President”.


In general, you can opt to leave out the definite article when the job in question has only one incumbent, such as President of the United States. Where the job has many occupants, you should have an article.

I am a surgeon.

I am the chief of surgery.

I am chief of surgery at Memorial Hospital.

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