I've read it at many places. I'm not sure whether they were authentic sources. But in any case, is it grammatical to say 'A dead [proper noun]'?


A dead Michael Jackson

I mean an indefinite article for a proper noun?

[Here are some results; kindly consider the relevant ones]

I only had asked this question but then the explanation in the selected answer is specific. It talks about making difference between one and many with the same name. Here, it's not the case.

  • I'm not sure about that. But I've come across sentences like "A dying Micheal Jackson...."
    – Varun Nair
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 9:15
  • 4
    I think a better question may be, rather than "Is it grammatical", "When is it grammatical". Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 9:40
  • I agree with @Dam. Language is flexible and many utterances are allowed to exist, but that doesn't mean they're allowed to exist in every context.
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 9:53
  • Possible duplicate of Why the indefinite article in "Their campaign mounts in fury as a free Europe crumbles"
    – user20792
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 12:07
  • 1
    A dead MJ, a young MJ, a relaxed MJ, a broke MJ, a famous MJ, an accused MJ, a frazzled MJ... These are each possible real MJs that we can reference. The same for another proper noun: a free Europe, a united Europe, a panicked Europe, a dead Europe, a living Europe, a frazzled Europe...
    – user20792
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


Yes. In a crime novel you might say:

A dead ______A________ would afford the ____B____ syndicate an opportunity to consolidate its power in the city's south side, while the ___A____ family were dealing with the power vacuum.

Where "A" might be the name of the crime boss in a competing family.

There, a marks a hypothetical.

A newspaper photograph of crowds standing on the street as a funeral cortège went by might have this caption:

A dead _____________ is mourned by adoring fans.

There, it would have a scene-setting rhetorical function.

  • 1
    Is there a problem with the formatting in your Q? I don't get it :( Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 23:40
  • What's this? Paraphrasing needed!
    – Maulik V
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 5:12
  • What needs paraphrasing?
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 14:04

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