I read it somewhere in an authentic news (I think from the BBC). It was about recently elected Mr. Narendra Modi. He's the next Prime Minister of India.

I surely remember the sentence that said...

The chief minister of the western state of Gujarat.

For clarification, I'm uploading the map here.

enter image description here

Check the position of the state of Gujarat. It's in the west of India, the west-most corner I mean. Ahmedabad and Rajkot are the cities of Gujarat State. India has 28 states and Gujarat is one of them. There's no county, province etc. It's clear Country-State-District-City.

Now the question:

Shouldn't it be...

The chief minister of Gujarat, the western state of India? OR The chief minister of the western state of India?

Can't the former one mean that Gujarat is country and not the state because it already mentioned 'state of'

Note: I'm aware of calling London city as The city of London, Chicago city as The city of Chicago. But then using it this way would certainly create an ambiguity.

The western state of Gujarat or western state of India!

3 Answers 3


The chief minister of the western state of Gujarat.

is correct.

Western refers to the location of Gujarat within the (implied) country of India.
of Gujarat specifically names the western state.

If you say:

The chief minister of the western state of India

it is saying India is the name of the western state.

However you could say:

The chief minister of a western state in India(, Gujarat)

It has to be a western state because there are many states in the west. Possibly you could say of India, but in India sounds more natural because all the states are in India.
Then you could add Gujarat to define which one you are talking about.

  • Thanks. +1 I was just confused about using the definite article with it.
    – Maulik V
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 5:59

Looking at your comments, I see this is an article problem.

As the others have said, the way the sentence is worded is fine. We can say:

(A) ...the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat.

We could also use the indefinite article, but the sentence would need to be restructured:

(B) ...the chief minister of Gujarat, a western state [in India].

Sentence B means there are at least a few western states in India, and Mr. Modi governs one of them. However, in the first sentence, we are pinpointing the state (Gujarat), by using the definite article.

It's odd (and tricky) how – even though the name of the state is mentioned in both sentences – you can't use the indefinite article in Sentence A, and you can't use the definite article in Sentence B. However, you could use the definite article if you changed the adjective in Sentence B to a superlative:

(C) ...the chief minister of Gujarat, the westernmost state in India.


Looking at Collins', sense 6:

used to mark apposition

In this case, it just means that Gujarat is a western state.

You could say The western state of India, Gujarat if there is only one state in the west (or, rather, if you thought your interlocutor thinks there's only one state in the west). With multiple states, you would have to say a western state of India, Gujarat.

The reason for this is that if there is more than one western state, without more context you cannot know which state is being referred to, and so you use the non-specific determiner.

It may be helpful to look at the nominal group in this way:

  • The western state of Gujarat = Gujarat, the western state (not the city/state/district, for example)
  • The city of Chicago = Chicago, the city (not the pizza)

The of in The western state of India denotes a part-whole relationship, whereas in the western state of Gujarat shows an appositive, descriptive/equitative relationship.

The use of the in the western state of Gujarat is simply because the writer/speaker has assumed that you know what western and state are, and so using a would be ungrammatical. A western state of Gujarat would mean that there are states within Gujarat, and one of them is to the west.


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