7

Nevertheless, Harry was determined to find out more about Riddle, so next day at break, he headed for the trophy room to examine Riddle’s special award, accompanied by an interested Hermione and a thoroughly unconvinced Ron, who told them he’d seen enough of the trophy room to last him a lifetime. (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)

Why are there articles preceding the modified proper nouns? It reads okay to me but it's rather strange, can you explain it.

Would "accompanied by interested Hermione and thoroughly unconvinced Ron" be correct?

  • interested Hermione would be grammatical, but not idiomatic. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 21 '17 at 13:24
9

It would not be strictly incorrect to drop the articles, however written with the articles, it is a bit like saying "a version of Hermione that is interested" and "a version of Ron who is thoroughly unconvinced". Used like this it could be interpreted as a temporary state.

Without the article, it is no longer referring to their state, but more descriptive of them as they are in a broader sense. In this case, the point is less about describing Hermione and Ron as it is describing their general condition throughout their accompaniment.

  • 2
    +1. The phrase skeptical Hermione would suggest that she is by nature skeptical, whereas a skeptical Hermione would mean that she is skeptical on this occasion. I believe that is what you mean by "mood". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 21 '17 at 13:36
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Right, a temporary condition I suppose, not necessarily permanent. – Neil Dec 21 '17 at 13:40
  • Well, that is logical... I wonder... what about "I looked out the window and saw a nice New York"? – SovereignSun Dec 21 '17 at 13:45
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    nice, meh, but "sunny" or "overcast" or "bustling" or "crowded" or any other adjective that is understood to refer to a temporary state would fly, as would any descriptor that distinguished New York from other cities. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 21 '17 at 14:04
  • @SovereignSun I suppose the term "mood" or "behavior" is not the right one here. Not sure what to call it otherwise. Strictly speaking it is just an adjective describing a subject. – Neil Dec 21 '17 at 14:10
7

If Hermione is skeptical under the present circumstances:

Harry headed to the trophy room accompanied by a skeptical Hermione.

The indefinite article implies, or at least it leaves open the possibility, that under other circumstances Hermione might well be one who is ready to believe.

P.S. The construction wants a descriptor that is occasioned by present circumstances, and thus any adjective or descriptive phrase that is always true is not idiomatic with the indefinite article:

... accompanied by a brunette Hermione

... accompanied by an intelligent Hermione

... accompanied by an attractive Hermione

... accompanied by a female Hermione

One can fabricate contexts, of course, where "a female Hermione" or "a brunette Hermione" become idiomatic—if she were given to experimenting with gender-changing spells, say, or with spells that changed hair color on a whim.

It wants something like

... accompanied by a sleep-deprived Hermione

  • Could you please include your comment concerning adjectives that can't work in the similar way? – SovereignSun Dec 21 '17 at 16:40
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    "the" female Hermione, or "the" brunette Hermione is what one would say or write in that situation. – Beanluc Dec 21 '17 at 18:03
  • "The female Hermione", or "The brunette H." ..."The" is still an article, and the question is about why we put an article before a name, not whether it is a definite or indefinite one. So not sure the focus on temporary vs. permanent is really relevant to the question. Are people getting hyper-rational here about something that really isn't rational at all? I think the answer is we use that construction because it is an idiosyncratic turn of phrase that tickles our ear when used infrequently and sounds kind of cool. – Lorel C. Dec 22 '17 at 0:19
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    @Lorel C. "because it doesn't sound kind of cool" is not a very cool explanation for why we would NOT say "a female Hermione" unless she were playing with gender-shifting spells, say. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 22 '17 at 12:05

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