What's the difference between 'as a' or 'as the': "As the bundle developer, you are to do so-and-so"

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While reading documentation I came across the following sentence:

As the bundle developer, you then parse through that configuration and load correct services and parameters inside an "Extension" class.

Shouldn't this be As a or As the is also correct? When should I say As a and when As the?

Turdaliev Nursultan

Posted 2015-12-02T08:22:00.530

Reputation: 229

5The fact that "as" appears before the article makes no difference to whether you should use "a" or "the". The question would be exactly the same if you wanted to know the difference between "The bundle developer's job is to develop bundles" and "A bundle developer's job is to develop bundles." – David Richerby – 2015-12-02T09:43:02.833

@DavidRicherby - so the does not imply that the addressed person is the sole developer for/of the bundle? Is this a 'generic use' of the article? Interesting. You might post an answer then, and I'll scrap mine. – CowperKettle – 2015-12-02T09:54:44.977

5@CopperKettle I think your answer's fine. I'm just pointing out that the question isn't really about "as the" vs "as a"; it's just about "a" vs "the". – David Richerby – 2015-12-02T10:05:06.543

Answers

8

The article the implies that you are the only developer for this software bundle.

The use of the article a would've implied that you were one of the developers, part of a team.


There's also the tendency to use no article when a person's position is unique:

'And last week, when Turner dismissed Johnson as coach, King again was asked to head the team for the final two games.' (There's only one coach in the team, so no article is used) (Chicago Tribune, via Google News)

But even if it's unique, it seems that it could be okay to still use the in "as-phrases":

I hope that as the president, you actively seek out opportunities to expand peaceful relations and alliances with countries who we are currently friendly and those who we may not have yet befriended. (Letters to President Obama, 2009)

(caveat: I'm not an English native speaker, and article use is sometimes cryptic to me)

CowperKettle

Posted 2015-12-02T08:22:00.530

Reputation: 36 949

4Omitting an article isn't (usually) about the uniqueness of the position, it's more to do with the role of the phrase in the sentence.

When the phrase is a clarifier, like in your coach example, the article can add unintended emphasis to the phrase. When the phrase is necessary to the meaning, like in your president example, the article is needed, and helps land the meaning better.

By the way, there's more than one coach. There's only one head coach, but there's still defensive and offensive coaches, and probably a few others. Likewise, there's technically more than one president. – modulusshift – 2015-12-02T09:09:46.413

1Former presidents are still called President so-and-so. I guess my point was that "the" was useful to clarify that he should do this as the acting president. Which is pretty obvious from context, too, so it's not crucial in word choice here. – modulusshift – 2015-12-02T09:12:29.753

@DavidRicherby - edited out, thanks! P.S. However, I found instances of very unique in Google Books and the jury is somewhat out on this, it seems

– CowperKettle – 2015-12-02T09:47:53.553

1With regards to omitting the article, it's normally because the word is a title not a noun, and hence is (normally) capitalised. Hence I would expect to see either "As President..." or "As the president...". Your "coach" example rather contradicts me though, so I may not be right. – AndyT – 2015-12-02T12:38:57.820

5

It's the same difference as between definite and indefinite articles anywhere: if you say "bundle developer" and there's only one person or thing you could mean, use "the". If there are several bundle developers, use "a".

"As the bundle developer..." here means "In your role as the bundle developer...", so you should come back to this in "bundle developer" context.

modulusshift

Posted 2015-12-02T08:22:00.530

Reputation: 3 192