The benzene probably arose from charred chemical tanks as overnight winds stirred remnants of their contents, owner Intercontinental Terminals Co. said.

Full source

I'm wondering why there is no article preceding the noun word 'owner' in this case.

1 Answer 1


I'd probably put this way of writing down as "journalese", perhaps arising from habitual "headlinese" that has spread into copy. It is a common way for journalists to save a few words of length, and I believe it is so habitual journalists still use it even when (as with Yahoo) not obviously constrained by word length.

In general writing we would probably say:

The owner, International Terminals Co, said the benzene probably arose from ...

This does two things journalists avoid:

  1. Uses more words than absolutely required.
  2. "Buries the lede". The most newsworthy part of the sentence ("the benzene probably arose from charred tanks") gets put into a subsidiary and subordinate role, secondary to the owner of the business, where the journalist wants the news about a dangerous chemical to be the "star" of the sentence.

All of which said, it is grammatical to omit the definite article when combining a general noun with a proper noun or nouns in the name of a person or organisation. Colleen's answer here gives more detail.

When asked about the poor result of the game, captain John Smith said ...

Prime Minister Jones inexplicably resigned following a day of upset.

The noun doesn't have to be part of the title to have the article omitted. So:

We welcomed Captain John Smith to the bridge.

"Captain" is part of John Smith's title, and given a capital C.

We welcomed ship's captain John Smith to the bridge.

Here we are simply making it clear that the captain of the ship if John Smith. Captain is not being used as his title, and lacks the capital C. But 'the' is still omitted, as we're creating a noun phrase.


You omit the definite article in noun phrases which contain names and titles, just as you would with a bare name or title.

Owner International Terminals Co. said "hello world!"

If separated into different clauses (separated by a comma), you need to add the article back:

The owner, International Terminals Co., said "hello world!"

You must log in to answer this question.

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