Q. Mrs. Kanwal is ............ principal of this school.

(1) no article

(2) a

(3) an

(4) the

Some people say that there should be "no article" before the noun "principal". They say the reason is that the noun "principal" has a fixed position in this sentence "this school", so there should be no article.

However, ChatGPT-4 and some books state that the article "the" is right, and most English teachers also give "the" as the right answer.

So please give an answer with reasons as it will be very important for many students.

Please give a strong valid proof for "the" also can be taken as a right answer. For this question I failed a government exam . It will be very helpful if anyone give me a proof.

  • 3
    Unfortunately, English doesn't work like that. There are no proofs, only established usages. In this case, both 1 and 4 are acceptable. 1 is acceptable for the reason that you have stated, but this reason does not forbid the use of 4, which is the normal situation when you are talking about one specific example of the noun. The question is faulty, because there are two possible correct answers.
    – JavaLatte
    Jan 26 at 10:00
  • This is a complex question. The grammarian Master put forward the analysis that there are two 'invisible' articles in English, the zero article (most indefinite) and the null article (even more definite than ;the'). 'We had chicken for tea' illustrates the zero article (missing before 'chicken', where 'a' or 'some' are also possible for an unspecified chicken) and 'He was king of all the Northern Lands' illustrates the null article ('the king' is possible here, not 'a king'). Here, the definite ((4)) or the null ((1) in the question's wording, though there is really an invisible article) ... Jan 26 at 13:32
  • may be used; both are fine.... This is ELU level. See Why do people sometimes omit the definite article where it seems sensible to include it? Jan 26 at 13:38
  • Both 1 and 4 are acceptable. This is similar to usages such as: Rishi Sunak is [the] prime minister of the UK. She is [the] world champion. He is [the] captain of the team, etc, etc. When you are talking about one person being in a unique position, either no article or the is possible.
    – Billy Kerr
    Jan 27 at 12:10
  • Please give me a strong valid proof that "the" also be right answer for this question. Because of this question I failed a exam for government job. If I proof that "the" also valid I will pass the exam and I will get the job. So please.
    – user342326
    Feb 2 at 16:44

2 Answers 2


Mrs. X is the principal of the school. Mrs. X is principal of the school.

Definition and Uses of the Definite Article 'the' in English Glossary of grammatical and rhetorical terms

use of the

Here are the relevant ones for this question:

"In broad outline, the major uses of the are the following: [...]

  1. for a unique or fixed referent: the Prime Minister, the Lord, the Times, the Suez Canal; [A school principal: there is only one for the school] [...]
  2. for something which is part of the immediate socio-physical context or generally known: the doorbell, the kettle, the sun, the weather; [...]

A school is very often in the vicinity of the speaker, it is part of the immediate socio-physical context.

However, in the absolute, it is not wrong to leave out the the. But the graders of the Indian government exam do not agree. So be it.


You need to use "the" in your sentence as you are talking about a school. And, there is usually one principal in a school. So, it would be wrong to use the noun without an article.

You can check the explanation here as well.

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