Most of the time I have heard people say "Rahul is an honest person."

Which one is correct and why?

He is an honest person.
He is honest person.

She is an honest woman.
She is honest woman.

  • 1
    "Honest person" is a noun phrase, with the singular noun "person" as head. The NP normally requires a determiner before any modifiers.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 13:54
  • Hemraj, yes, you need "an". English requires: a/an, the or plural. A simple rule: She is an honest woman; They are honest women. She is the honest woman I saw in the street. Just to help you remember the rule.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 13, 2022 at 16:39

4 Answers 4


Person and woman are count nouns, so they cannot occur in the singular without an article (except in a few special contexts). This is true whether or not they are preceded by an adjective.

So it must be an honest person/woman.


He(Noun) is(Auxiliary Verb/ Main Verb) an(determiner) honest (adjective) person (noun).

  • Thanks for the answer but please clear me "an" is a take right place in this sentence ? Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 11:09
  • yes the first one goes right because it is an attribution adjective Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 11:14

You can say it in two different ways:

  1. He is an honest person.
  2. He is honest.

She is an honest person. He is an honest person.

The choice between an or a depends on the nearest phoneme in the the grammatical construction. It is a word honest which is pronounced with the vowel sound [o short]. It makes necessary to use an as an indefinite article in such a collocation.

The grammatical construction of the sentence She is an honest woman is Subject+linking verb be+attributive Adjective+Noun phrase. Or, it is Subject+Predicate+Subject complement if we denote the sentence with the grammatical functions of its constituents.

The function of the Subject Complement in such construction is the description of the category which the Subject belongs to. Because the Subject is a concrete person denoted with the pronoun she, we should use an undefined set of persons having some specified feature for the Subject Complement. This meaning is conveyed by the noun phrase in which the indefinite article is in the initial attributive position.

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