Mrs. Jones has been selected for the post principal.

This sentence grammatically seems correct. But what if Mrs. Jones is unknown to speaker?

Than what should be the correct form to say a name of person who is known to speaker A Mrs Jones or Some Mrs. Jones or The Mrs. Jones? And one more thing here Jones is person's last name. But if change Jones into first name for example Mr. John then does it effect my question? I mean in that case also should we use A Mr. John and Some Mr. John or The Mrs. Jones ?(if this is correct)


Just to be clear: In general, you do not use an article with a proper name in English.

Where you do put "a" before a proper name is when you want to indicate that all you know about the person is his name. If someone you know who is named Bob Smith is selected for the job, then you say, "Bob Smith has been selected." If you read the name in some sort of announcement and have no idea who this person is, then you might say, "Someone named Bob Smith has been selected", or "A Bob Smith has been selected." Often in that case you put the name in quotes. This would also apply if there are several people with the same name and you are not sure which it is. "Who was selected?" "A Bob Smith. But I'm not sure if it's the Bob Smith from the English Department or the Bob Smith from the Math Department."

You almost never use "the" in front of a person's name. If you do it's usually when you are specifying just which of several people with similar names you mean. Like in my example above about the two Bob Smiths. Or if you want to make clear that you mean the famous person by this name. Like, "We got THE Bill Gates to speak at our conference", meaning, the actual famous person of that name, not just someone else with a similar name.

  • You mention a example saying Someone name Bob Smith has been selected. If i change a little bit Some Mr. Bob Smith has been selected. Then is it correct or wrong? – starun008 Dec 17 '14 at 17:03
  • A fluent speaker would almost certainly put that in quotes. -- Some "Mr. Bob Smith" has been selected. -- I don't know that it would be wrong without the quotes but it looks funny to me, for what that's worth. – Jay Dec 17 '14 at 19:43

Let's say the police come to a building looking for someone. They might ask the receptionist:

Does a William Jones work here?

That means, "Is there a person working here whose name is 'William Jones'".

If they know only his surname, they might ask:

Is there a Mr. Jones working here?

Someone reading the newspaper might relate a story to a friend:

The article said that a Mr. William Jones was caught committing fraud against the transit authority, by paying a lower fare than he should have been. It says he'd been perpetrating this fraud for years. Do you think that could be the William Jones you used to work with at Dewey Cheatham and Howe?
-- Sounds like him. He was always a cheapskate, even though he was making millions.

If the surname is unknown, then the title "Mr" or "Mrs" is typically not used:

Is there a 'William' working here?

  • 1
    OK I get want you want to explain but still little confuse. suppose one of my friend ask me Who is the winner of the game? I say some Mr. William Jones ( I just know the name of winner, don't know him personally). Am I correct in this case? And what should be the answer of my question which i posted according you? – starun008 Dec 17 '14 at 14:01
  • what I understand it should be A Mrs. Jones has been selected for the post of principal.(If i don't know Mrs. Jones) @TRomano – starun008 Dec 17 '14 at 14:08
  • Just to be clear, there is no requirement to use the indefinite or definite article; we're talking about possible idiomatic ways to say (in conversation) "a person whose name is X, who is unknown to me". You can thus say "A Mr William Jones from Brighton has won the lottery" or "A chap from Brighton named William Jones has won the lottery". or "I heard through the grapevine that a 'Mrs Jones' has been appointed principle of Mountainside Middle School. Do you think that could be Edna Jones, who taught Social Studies to our son Billy?* – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 17 '14 at 15:47
  • There are several elements that can be unknown in this context: a) you're not sure of the person's full name and therefore you are unsure of the exact identity of the person; or b) you do know the person's full name but have never met them before; c) the person you're speaking with has never met them before. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 17 '14 at 15:50
  • Principal, that is. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 17 '14 at 15:54

ETA: The most neutral way to say this sentence is just as it appears in your post, without an article at all:

Mrs. Jones has been selected for the post of principal.

There is no added meaning here. You are just conveying the fact that Mrs. Jones was chosen for the position. (/edit)

If you were to say:

A Mrs. Jones has been selected for the post of principal.

the emphasis is on the fact that you know nothing about Mrs. Jones other than her name. You should be a little careful with this construction. Especially when you are talking about someone who was selected for the position, it could give your audience the idea that you aren't sure whether they are qualified. Nothing is known about their prior experience. Are they qualified? Of course, that may be exactly what you are trying to get across!

On the other hand, if you were to say:

The Mrs. Jones has been selected for the post of principal.

then you are implying that Mrs. Jones should be well-known to your audience, and that even though there might be many people out there with the name Mrs. Jones, the well-known one is the one who was selected.

This might be easier to understand with a more famous name. For example:

Our school is having a talent show. We've gotten the Simon Cowell to judge the show.

Here, you want to emphasize that the famous talent scout is the one who will be there, not some other guy who just happens to share the name.

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