Tell me please why an article was omitted in the following sentence.

One of the premier shape-shifters of his generation of actors, able to convincingly play an uncanny variety of characters, Paul Dano would seem to have slipped easily into yet another role: that of (an) accomplished director.

The word director is a countable noun, so I think an article should have been used. Does that have to do with the phrase that of?

  • 2
    The use of an article is not about countable/not countable. "that of" is here: the role of accomplished director. There could be an a there, but it is not necessary. Compare: The role of a prime minister is hard to understand; the role of prime minister is hard to understand. Both are right. Without a, it's closer to the notion.
    – Lambie
    Mar 20, 2018 at 21:54

2 Answers 2


We can reword the sentence as "Paul Dano slipped into the accomplished director role." "Accomplished director" is describing Paul Dano's role, and "role" already has the article "the". If we were to say "Paul Dano slipped into the role of an accomplished director," that would be ambiguous as to whether there was some other person what was an accomplished director, whose role Paul Dano was slipping into.


The article is not just unnecessary, but wrong.

The name of the rôle that he has “slipped” into is Accomplished Director which is a bit like, say, Principle Lecturer or Senior Citizen. Or Iago, or Iolanthe.

The person doing that rôle is indeed an Adjective Noun, though.

UPDATE: on reflection, the rôle of a(n) something means playing the rôle that is played by a(n) something, so I guess I withdraw my objection to that. But you do have to parse it differently for it to make sense :o)


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .