Is there a missing definite article before caliph in 'the group's leader, XYZ, as (the) caliph'?



I read news on the BBC (on its website) this morning. When I was reading the news I noticed the definite article the was missing in a sentence. As per my opinion, the reporter missed the article the. But I also thought that the reporter also had some point as he did not use the article there. So I just wanted to confirm so landed here to get some help on it.

On the website:

It also proclaimed the group's leader, XYZ (name), as caliph and "leader for Muslims everywhere".

As per my opinion it should have been:

It also proclaimed the group's leader, XYZ (name), as the caliph and "leader for Muslims everywhere".

Source link:


Posted 2014-06-30T02:44:12.273

Reputation: 3 999



I can see why this might sound odd, but articles are often omitted when dealing with positions and appointments, particularly in news stories:

The University of Miami has appointed Jill Deupi, who currently serves as director and chief curator of University Museums at Fairfield University, as the new director of the Lowe Art Museum. (source)

In that quote, there is no article before the first instance of director, but there is before the second instance. (I presume the word "new" prompted the article; perhaps the author thought "as the new director" would sound more natural than "as new director.")

Here's another example:

Victoria Jurgens has been named legislative secretary to the Minister of Government Relations for northern Saskatchewan. In her role as legislative secretary, Jurgens will work closely with Minister of Government Relations Jim Reiter. (source)

There's no need to put a or the before legislative secretary, although the author could have done so.


Posted 2014-06-30T02:44:12.273

Reputation: 108 123

2I particularly like your first example, because I thoroughly endorse the slight distinction which disposes the writer to use an article in the second reference but not the first. All four combinations of null/the + null/the are in principle "valid", but in that exact context, null + the seems stylistically "better" to me. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-06-30T15:05:32.473

Thanks!!! You made the sense. Could you please let me know, should we use an article before we mention positions and appointments or we can also omit an article? – user62015 – 2014-06-30T15:05:47.637

@user62015: It's hard to identify/articulate "rules" in this area (mainly because they're usually only tendencies at best), but I think omitting the article in your own example is definitely "better". Not least because the office of "caliph" didn't previously exist. Also note that the word *as* is entirely optional there. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-06-30T15:10:12.807

@FumbleFingers Thank you for the answer! I appreciate it a lot. – user62015 – 2014-06-30T15:13:05.677

@user62015: It's a well-presented question, but I would advise you to be a little more "accepting" if you encounter usages on something like a *BBC* site that you find "odd". Typos are always possible anywhere, but the chances of you coming across an actual stylistic choice error are probably vanishingly small compared to the possibility that you've simply not encountered some deliberately-used construction before. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-06-30T15:23:54.890

@FumbleFingers I completely agree with you. But problem is "I am not a native-English speaker". And as you know "articles" are tricky in English! But honestly people help a lot on this website and I appreciate all of them! – user62015 – 2014-06-30T15:36:04.523

@user62015: I completely understand your problem. I'm just saying that some "sources" (BBC, The Times newspaper, New Yorker magazine, etc.) are pretty reliable. Not that you're wrong for asking about this particular usage here, but you should probably expect them to be right rather than you, if they seem to be violating what you currently understand to be "normal English". Also note that the BBC numbers *to educate and inform* among its stated objectives, so they might tend to use "less common, but still valid" forms more often than you might otherwise expect. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-06-30T15:52:26.550

1@FumbleFingers Thank you so much for help. I understood your point. – user62015 – 2014-07-01T02:08:29.180

@user62015: Hi, just wanted to chime in here - Speaking of articles, your first comment should've read "Thanks!!! You made sense....". The "the" was not needed ;) – Harsha_K – 2014-08-08T07:23:59.833

The reasons "director" can be used without "the" here is because it's a title. After the appointment, you could refer to her as Director Jill Deupi. You couldn't refer to her as "New Director Jill Deupi", because "new director" isn't the name of the position. (You could call her "the new director, Jill Deupi".) – Peeja – 2014-09-01T13:52:37.873


To add to what's already been said, there are a bunch of issues at play here.

First, the definite article usually gets dropped with 'passive status verbs' when the immediately following noun is a specific role:

to be proclaimed president; nominated as secretary; elected treasurer; named manager; announced

When it's not a specific role, the definite article tends to be retained:

to be declared the winner of the election

This is true also for specific roles that have been decorated with modifiers:

to be proclaimed the 45th president

Second, the definite article usually gets dropped even without 'status verbs' when the noun follows 'as' and the noun is, once again, a specific role.

As CEO, I will try to...

As MP for Toronto, I will try to...


As a factory worker, I will try to...


Posted 2014-06-30T02:44:12.273

Reputation: 1 130


Caliph is a singular (as I read it) position. If there were more than one caliph, then a (indefinite article) would be OK.

As it is, it should be the (definite article) or omitted as on the website. A similar example:

President Obama became (the) president of the United States.


Posted 2014-06-30T02:44:12.273

Reputation: 29 679

I agree with you!!! Sorry I missed the point. I edited it now. – user62015 – 2014-06-30T02:53:11.713