In a sentence where the definite article precedes someone's name, as in this example:

The war campaign has boosted the Putin's ratings.

could the definite article be used?

Would the above example be incorrect, if one desired to preserve the order of words in the sentence and the definite article seemed necessary?

  • 17
    This usage is only correct for Donald Trump, who is sometimes called "The Donald". Wikipedia has a link to how this started. May 2, 2016 at 13:00
  • 2
    Related: ell.stackexchange.com/q/58749
    – ColleenV
    May 2, 2016 at 13:33
  • 4
    "The war campaign has shot up the ratings of Putin" is not really "safe". While "the ratings of Putin" is grammatical, it's not something a native speaker would ever say. This kind of situation is why many ELL teachers say "of goes with inanimate objects, 's goes with people" (the preceding rule is actually a simplification, but as a general tendency it's true).
    – sumelic
    May 2, 2016 at 14:19
  • 5
    I don't like the usage of "it shot up his ratings", because "to shoot up", in this sense, means "to rise rapidly", and is not a transitive verb. Did the war campaign rise rapidly? No, it made something else rise rapidly. So it would be better phrased as "the war campaign made his ratings shoot up."
    – stangdon
    May 2, 2016 at 15:13
  • 3
    Putting "The", with a capital T, in front of a proper name turns it into a sarcastic title. "The Putin" = there is only one person named Putin whom I could possibly be referring to, and of course you have heard of him, and I am poking a little fun at his notoriously huge ego. This isn't a farfetched thing to do to the particular person named Putin who is currently president of Russia, in, say, an op-ed column.
    – zwol
    May 2, 2016 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


You should not use the in

The war campaign has shot up Putin's ratings.

Yes, the noun "ratings" is definite, but it already has a word that indicates whose ratings they are: Putin's ratings.

You may think of it as

The war campaign has shot up his ratings.

Words like "his, her, their" are called "possessive determiners".

The definite article "the" is also a determiner. Some determiners can be combined, but we don't combine "the" with possessive determiners:

I love to eat the her cakes. (WRONG!)

If you want to know which determiners can be combined, see Wikipedia's article English determiners, subsection Combination of determiners.

(Note that I did not write "see the Wikipedia's article 'English determiners'")

Related questions:

  • 9
    @Rathony: "the Wikipedia" is definitely wrong. It might be closeer to being a common noun, but it still isn't. "The encyclopedia" works, though, but only if you're referring to a specific copy of it (e.g. the one on your shelf). Note that the Wikipedia article is fine, because "the" applies to "article", but with the possessive form the Wikipedia's article, "the" applies to "Wikipedia". May 2, 2016 at 12:57
  • 10
    @Rathony If you put the definite article in front of it, you would remove the possessive - "The Wikipedia article" or "Wikipedia's article". You shouldn't use both.
    – ColleenV
    May 2, 2016 at 13:19
  • 2
    @Rathony - It's time for you to learn instead of argue. You've tried to insert the definite article into two sentences now, and they sound wrong in both cases. In any case, comments are not for extended discussion; the ensuing debate has been moved to chat.
    – J.R.
    May 2, 2016 at 16:02
  • 8
    @Rathony A website for learning the English language is not an appropriate place to promulgate your personal opinions on which rules of English grammar should or shouldn’t be followed. It does not matter what your research has shown; your contributions only confuse the issue for someone who wants to know how to speak English as its native speakers speak it. Until they start a “Rathony’s Personal Version of English Language Learners Stack Exchange,” those opinions are worse than worseless, they are misleading and may cause someone learning to do something wrong—because yes, you are wrong.
    – KRyan
    May 2, 2016 at 17:44
  • 5
    @Rathony Also, that Wikipedia article you link is terrible. Its English isn’t entirely awful, though it is far from exemplary (including the relevant inclusion of “the ‘Ontur's Eras,’” which is different from this case anyway because of the inclusion of the possessive in the title), but more importantly that article offers no references and does not correctly attribute its translation from Spanish. I've cleaned it up a little, though I admit I’m at a loss with the "Ontur's Eras" since that just looks like some mistranslation garbling.
    – KRyan
    May 2, 2016 at 18:07

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