English as a Second Language/Definite article



I have a question regard the definite article.
"I love the singer Fairuz." (she is the most famous Lebanese singer). likewise, "I am the teacher Antoine".

Is the use of "the" correct before the proper nouns?

Please help me with a detailed answer.
Thanks and best regards,

ANSWER: Hi again Antoine,

It would be my pleasure to clarify this for you.

First of all, "the" is not used with proper nouns here, but with the common nouns - singer and teacher respectively.

"The" can be used with proper nouns in few instances (but that is not the case here) - for ex:

- I took a tour of the Grand Canyon.
- I visited the Forbidden City in China.
- Man has landed on the Moon.

"The" - as a definite article is properly used here as there is only one Grand Canyon, only one Forbidden City, and only one Moon.

Now, back to the sentences you are asking about: "the" is used properly, it's the syntax of the sentence that I would modify.

I would  say:

- I love Fairuz, the singer.
- I am Antoine, the teacher.

In doing so you follow the proper syntax: subject, verb, direct object, indirect object etc.

'The singer" is a descriptor of the proper noun Fairuz, thus it belongs after Fairuz, just like "the teacher" is a descriptor (it describes, it gives more information about Antoine) of the proper noun Antoine, so it comes after it.

I hope this helps.

As I said before, please let me know if you need further help with this topic...or others.


Amy B

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks but I still do not understand why it is not possible to say "I love the singer Fairuz" and I am the teacher Antoine", because we say "the apostle Paul", "the prophet Muhammad", the word "strong" (collates with "coffee')....
Please help me out!

ANSWER: OK, Antoine,

please consider the following 4 sentences, all of which are correct (in my opinion)

1. (The prophet) Muhammad is the founder of the religion of Islam.

2. Muhammad (the prophet) is the founder of the religion of Islam.

3. The religion of Islam has been founded by the prophet Muhammad.

4. The religion of Islam has been founded by Muhammad (the prophet.)

In examples # 1 & 3 "the prophet Muhammad" is an entity by itself. There is and there will always be only one Muhammad, he was/is the prophet, and (most) everybody will know without a doubt who you're talking about.  Another thing - you can omit the words "the prophet" wherever I put them between brackets and the sentences would still be correct.

When it comes to Fairuz or Antoine- even though both of you may be famous, you still need to give more details about either one to make sure that people reading the sentences we've been talking about know exactly who you refer to, therefore you use "the singer" to narrow it down to "the" Fairuz you have in mind, and "the teacher" for Antoine.

If you say "I love the singer", this would be an incomplete or incorrect sentence. The person you'd be talking to won't really understand who is it that you're talking to. "The singer" can't be the direct object, at least not on its own. You could say " I love this singer", or you could say "I love Fairuz" these being sentences that are not abmiguos, and that make perfect sense.

Same thing with "I am the teacher Antoine" - you can say "I am your teacher, Antoine"  or "I am Antoine the teacher" but "the teacher" by itself can't be the direct object, in other words the sentence "I am the teacher" is either incorrect or incomplete, unless it answers the question "Who is the teacher?"

(I don't really understand the "strong"  "coffee" correlation you're trying to point me to.)

Let me know if this answers/clarifies your question.

Best regards,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thanks for your detailed reply!
If "Muhammad" is well know, why do we use "the"? We can simply say "Prophet Muhammad".
You did not comment on "the apostle Paul". Here we also use "the".
Back to Fairuz and Antoine, is it possible to omit "the" and say "I love singer Fairuz" or "I'am teacher Antoine"?
I am sorry to bother you.
Please accept my kindest regards


you are not bothering. This is the purpose of this website, and I'm more than happy to be of help.

The problem that confuses you, as I see it, is not with the use of the definite article, but with the order of the words.

You can't omit "the" when you talk about Faruz the singer or Antoine the teacher as both "singer" and "teacher" are common nouns and they have to be accompanied by articles, or some other particle that plays a similar role.  You wouldn't say "Pass me salt" but "Pass me the salt" , it's not correct to say "I returned book to library" but "I returned the book to the library".

I didn't comment on the apostle Paul as it would be a situation similar to that of Muhammad the prophet.

Feel free to write back if you have further questions.

Best regards,


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Amy Baker


I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.


I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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