General Writing and Grammar Help/determiner


Mr.Johnathan Clayborn:
A question came up when I came across the following article in November 8 issue of the Times:
"The duo were fixtures of the President's campaign (on Monday they wore matching "Obama 08" fleeces) and, with the exception of Michelle Obama, have arguably been more important than anyone else in shaping a his career."

I understand that indefinite article and possessive cannot go together. So, for example, you cannot say "a my friend" but you should say "a friend of mine."

As you can see, my example from the Times contradicts this rule.It reads "a his career."

My question is whether it is grammatically acceptable to use indefinite article "a" and possessive "his" at the same time.

Could you help me?

Hi Kazuya,

You are quite correct in your assessment of this article; it does not follow the rules. This sentence is, in fact, this is a good example of the importance of proof-reading your work. Even large newspapers and magazines occasionally do make mistakes. One rather embarrassing example is from a few years ago when an Australian cookbook included a recipe that called for "ground black people" instead of "ground black pepper". The publisher, Penguin Books, issued an apology and affirmed that mistakes do sometimes happen. :)

In your specific example the "a" is erroneous and should be omitted.

Kind Regards,

General Writing and Grammar Help

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Johnathan Clayborn


I can answer a broad range of questions about both academic and creative writing. I can answer questions about APA format, research and references, essay structure and more. I am particularly helpful in the areas of character development, storyline development, etc. and I can provide authors with an array of tools to help them organize their work.


I minored in English for my Bachelor's degree. I have also written several books and I run a small publishing company (before you ask, we're not accepting submissions at this time). I have written both fiction and non-fiction books and I have been published in newspapers and written articles for major internet websites.

Alpha Chi, Psi Chi, Kappa Delta Pi, APA

MS, Educational Psychology, BS Psychology (English minor)

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