Articles with appositives

 

Q:

I have a question about articles.

"He was shot by an archer."
"He was shot by John Black."

But when I want to say that "he was shot by archer John Black," is there an article or no?


Ludmila Malikova
[email protected]
Posted 05 December 2001
A:
About the sentence "He was shot by John Black": there are a few ways to insert the word "archer," and then you may or may not — depending on the meaning you want — use an article before it with the appositive "John Black" (or, with "archer" as the appositive).

The sentences below are in this order: the first two are for the least famous John Black, and the last for the most famous John Black.

(1)

He was shot by an archer, John Black.

In this sentence, with the indefinite article, the writer believes that the reader may or may not have heard of John Black, and that John Black needs to be identified. Here, you do need the comma after "archer."


A similar sentence is : "She was married to a baseball player, John Doe."

(2)

He was shot by John Black, an archer.

Sentence (2) is the same as (1). You need the comma after "John Black."

A similar sentence is: "She was married to John Doe, a baseball player."

(3)

He was shot by the archer, John Black.

Sentence (3) indicates that John Black is quite a famous archer, one that most people have heard of. You need the comma after "archer."


A similar sentence is: "She was married to the golfer, Tiger Woods."

(4)

He was shot by John Black, the archer.

Sentence (4) is the same as (3). You need the comma after "John Black."


A similar sentence is: "She was married to Tiger Woods, the golfer."

(5)

He was shot by archer John Black.

This sentence is also correct. The implication is that John Black is a very famous archer, one that everyone knows of.

A similar sentence is: "She was married to baseball player, Joe DiMaggio."

Here are more examples, from least famous to most famous:

(6)

The drama was written by a playwright unknown at the time, Vaclav Havel. (Like (1) and (2) above)

(7)

The drama was written by the playwright Vaclav Havel. (Like (3) and (4) above)

(8)

The drama was written by playwright Vaclav Havel before he became President Vaclav Havel. (Like (5) above)