I was racking my brain to make the title clear but I don’t know how to name this article problem. It’s about a noun + of + noun. Let me give some examples.

Song of the day.

Man of the year.

King of the country.

Master of the universe.

These phrases tend to be used with the zero article for the first noun. I probably see a pattern in the first two, but, again it cannot beat ‘the soup of the day’, for example.

Can you please explain the rule or how to understand such phenomena?

1 Answer 1


Some of these have become sort of a title and a proper noun in its own right. If you put it in a sentence and add more context sometimes you will need an article.

Obama was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 2008.

Here "Man of the Year" is a proper noun that denotes a title. Like "president"

He was elected president of the United States.

This should explain your question about "King of the country". Similarly, you can say

He has served as king of the country for 30 years.

But you could also use "Man of the Year" with the definite or indefinite article.

Time failed to select a "Man of the Year" this year.

Where is the "Man of the Year"?

  • Eddie Kal, sometimes even titles are preceded by "the", such as in "... the man of the match ..." and "... the king of the jungle ...".
    – AIQ
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 5:51
  • 1
    @AIQ yeah but my answer doesn't exclude that. They have different connotations. I actually wrote a bit more in the original answer on the difference between "the Queen of England"/"Queen of England" "the president"/"president" but deleted it because I didn't think it was detailed enough. Your examples are single-instance titles, so there is only one, hence the article.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 6:10

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