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When I look up my dictionaries for 'executive secretary', I found the below 2 examples:

She’s executive secretary to New York University’s president. He was executive secretary of the NAACP.

I have 3 questions on my mind.

  1. The dictionaries say 'executive secretary' is countable. So why is the article 'an' absent before 'executive secretary' (i.e. She's an executive secretary to ...)?
  2. Since 'executive secretary' is a title, it should be a proper noun. Shouldn't the first letter be capitalized (i.e. Executive Secretary)?
  3. What is the proper preposition after secretary? I note that the first example use 'to' whereas the 2nd example use 'of'.

Thank you very much!

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  • 1
    (2), (1) There often seems to be a grey area between job description and title. 'She is chief surgeon to the royal family' but 'He is Chief Surgeon to ...' [[Herringshaws](file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/HerringshawsCityBlueBookofBiography_11205774.pdf)]. 'Bert Broeckaert was ethical advisor to the Palliative Care Federation Flanders'. The availability of the non-capitalised variant proves increasingly attractive. There seems to be a fairly common practice of anarthrous usage here.... Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 9:24
  • Note that one would have to argue that 'the' is the absent article here, ie we 'see' the null article rather than the 'homographic' zero article in play. // (3) (a separate question) needs basic research. //// I'm sure that the 'title versus job description' question has been addressed here before in some depth, so I can't in conscience provide an 'answer'. Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 9:26
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    For 1, we omit the article because of the "to the etc." For 2, the writer gets to decide whether to capitalize -- it's personal taste or maybe there's a prescribed style. For 3, "to" is used when the secretary is attached to an individual person or office, while "of" is used when it's an organization. Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 7:48

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