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"Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the life of a young wizard, Harry Potter,.."

I don't understand why there isn't an article before the phrase "British author". Is it because there isn't a comma between the word "author" and the name? So is it okay to write "The novels chronicle the life of young wizard Harry Potter"?

Being a British author isn't something unique and there are many British author there. So I don't think you can omit the article.

By the way, I got the sentences from Wikipedia.

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"British author" is being used as an adjectival phrase in

by British author J.K. Rowling.

If you leave it out you are left with

by J.K. Rowling

which also doesn't require an article.


If you insert the definite article, as in

by the J.K. Rowling

you would change the meaning to be more like "by the one and only J.K. Rowling". If you mean something else, like "by the very talented J.K. Rowling", you would need to say so.

If you insert both "the" and the adjectival phrase, as in

by the British author J.K. Rowling

you change the adjectival phrase into a noun phrase ("British author") and create an ellipsis for

the British author [whose name is] J.K. Rowling.

This would not significantly change the meaning of the original.


If you insert an indefinite article, as in

a British author J.K. Rowling

you are probably trying to say "a British author by the name of J.K. Rowling", as if she were an unknown author. This may have been true once but is no longer true today.


Usage for the character Harry Potter is more flexible.

the life of young wizard Harry Potter

the life of a young wizard, Harry Potter

the life of the young wizard [in the story] Harry Potter

essentially mean the same thing, but "young wizard" is an adjectival phrase in the first example only, and a noun phrase in the second two. The definite article requires some context in the third example, with "in the story" generally assumed.

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I personally would use the article, but it might help to think of "British author J.K. Rowling" as a proper noun preceded by a short adjective phrase. You would not say the Tom Lee (at least in this context), because you are a unique person. Example:

The question was asked by Harry Potter reader Tom Lee, who wanted to know why the definite article was omitted in front of his name.

If I use the definite article, then it would apply to the noun "author" and not the name of the author.

The question was asked by the Harry Potter reader, whose name is Tom Lee, who wanted to know ...

And yes, it is perfectly proper to say "the novels chronicle the life of young wizard Harry Potter", or really any similar expression that includes a proper noun.

The novel would have been written more swiftly if not for the interference of keyboard-sitter Maxwell, the author's cat.

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