1

Should I use articles before official titles if they do not precede names?

For example,

[name] became PM.

vs

[name] became the PM.

5
  • I think no, but it is more common to use a prefix like Mr/Mrs/Dr or whatever alike before that name in my humble opinion. – Cardinal Apr 14 '20 at 21:40
  • Do you mean '[name] became PM' versus '[name] became the PM'? – stevekeiretsu Apr 14 '20 at 21:41
  • @stevekeiretsu Yes – Sergey Zolotarev Apr 14 '20 at 22:50
  • Does this help you? The definite article before a title – AIQ Apr 29 '20 at 8:42
  • @AIQ "As an English language learner, [...]" — thanks, not interested. I'm an English learner myself – Sergey Zolotarev Apr 29 '20 at 10:43
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+50

As others have pointed out, both forms are correct, so to answer your specific question - you don't have to use the definite article before a title. In fact, I would prefer your first option. Here are some examples:

When Obama became president in 2009, Republicans could afford to have former President George W. Bush sit on the sidelines as they rebuilt their strength. (source)

Henry became king more or less immediately in what was the first bloodless transfer of power in England for nearly a century (though his coronation didn’t take place until 24 June 1509). (source)

I'd use the option with "the" if it's followed by "of ...", as in "he became the PM of France", or "she became the queen of England".

3
  • But it's not required, is it (regarding your last sentence)? – Sergey Zolotarev May 2 '20 at 7:08
  • In those examples, it's not required. Search for "became queen of England" in this Wikipedia article about, in fact, the British throne. – RuslanD May 2 '20 at 7:13
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    You wouldn't, however, say something like "PM of France is here" or "Queen of Spain has just arrived" - you'd put "the" in front of both of those. – RuslanD May 2 '20 at 7:14
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It's not only about whether there's a name following the title but also about whether the title denotes the office itself or the officer who holds it. Your examples show the former case, and I share others' preference for omitting the article, but I'm sure there are native speakers who would include it.

However, you do need the definite article or another determiner when using the name of the office to denote the person holding the office.

The queen sees the prime minister weekly.

Some members of the city council want to replace the chief of police.

If there are several people holding the same title, though, you might want the indefinite article instead, as in "we are hoping to get an ambassador to speak at the conference."

1

Either is correct. However, when you use "the", it's understood you may be discussing the specific organization where the person holds the title.

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