<a> CEO of a Fortune 500 company

VicNicSor

Senior Member
Russian
Jerry asks Mulder to help him with an investigation on a murder. Mulder is reluctant. Jerry:
— I don't want to drop the ball on this one. (..........) Drake [the victim] wasn't just a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He was a good friend of the Attorney General's. Another feather in my cap would be really nice right now, because the one I got's looking a little mangy.
The X-Files, TV series

Normally, it would be "the CEO of a Fortune 500 company", because a company has only one CEO.
But here the meaning is:

Drake was:
neither a CEO
nor that of a Fortune 500 company

That make sense?
Thank you.
 
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    You would know better from having watched the show, but it sounds to me as though Drake was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

    Here's a simpler example:

    The murdered man was the owner of a business. But he wasn't just a business owner: he was also a husband and father.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    In this case the whole category is "X = CEO of a Fortune 500 company" - he is one of those. He is an X. "He is a CEO of a Fortune 500 company". He was not only an X but also a Y.

    Cross posted
     

    apricots

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Using a or the in this instance doesn't change the meaning. When you say "he wasn't just a/the..." it means that in addition to being x he was also y.

    He wasn't just a good friend, he was also a/the CEO of a F500 company.
    He wasn't just the manager of the store, he was also a family man.
    He wasn't just a doctor, he was also an artist.
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Oh, sorry:oops:,
    I wanted to mean "not only ... but also", not "neither ...... nor".

    So,
    (a CEO) of (a Fortune 500 company):cross:
    a (CEO of a Fortune 500 company):tick:

    And if he had had to say the whole phrase it would've still been:
    Drake wasn't just a chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 company.

    Right?
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I don't get the whole thing:)
    He wasn't just a good friend, he was also a/the CEO of a F500 company.
    Could you tell what "a" indicates here? Does it belong to "CEO", like "the". Or it doesn't?
    The murdered man was the owner of a business. But he wasn't just a business owner: he was also a husband and father.
    If you had to say "But he wasn't just a/the owner of a business", would you say either, both are correct?

    In this case the whole category is "X = CEO of a Fortune 500 company"
    Why isn't it "X = the CEO of a Fortune 500 company", then...
    That is:
    He wasn't just a the CEO of a Fortune 500 company
    He wasn't just a the chief executive officer CEO of a Fortune 500 company
    :confused:
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Why isn't it "X = the CEO of a Fortune 500 company"
    That is:
    He wasn't just a the CEO of a Fortune 500 company
    He wasn't just a the chief executive officer CEO of a Fortune 500 company
    :confused:
    He is "A" member of the category "CEOs of Fortune 500 companies".
    He is also the CEO of a (particular) Fortune 500 company.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    There are 500 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. He is one of them, but, in this case, the text is not specifying which CEO or which company. He could be any of the 500 CEOs of any of the 500 Fortune 500 companies.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Could you tell what "a" indicates here? Does it belong to "CEO", like "the". Or it doesn't?
    Sorry, but I'm not sure what you mean by "belong to."

    If you had to say "But he wasn't just a/the owner of a business", would you say either, both are correct?
    You could rephrase "He wasn't just a business owner…" as "He wasn't just the owner of a business" or (more cumbersomely) "He wasn't just an owner of a business…"


    Why isn't it "X = the CEO of a Fortune 500 company"
    That is:
    He wasn't just a the CEO of a Fortune 500 company
    He wasn't just a the chief executive officer CEO of a Fortune 500 company
    I don't think I understand what's still puzzling you.

    Here was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. (The company has one CEO.) But he was more than just a CEO of a Fortuna 500 company. (The world has many CEO's of Fortune 500 companies -- probably 500.) He was also a husband and father.

    [Cross-posted with everyone]
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you, everyone ! It's clearer now, but I need to clarify something:
    But he was more than just a CEO of a Fortuna 500 company. (The world has many CEO's of Fortune 500 companies -- probably 500.) He was also a husband and father.
    or (more cumbersomely) "He wasn't just an owner of a business…
    As I understand these two are identical. I.e. we can say: He wasn't just an owner of a business = The world has many owners of businesses...
    So you would say that in the movie it was said cumbersomely too, and you would prefer article THE there instead of A, right?


    He is "A" member of the category "CEOs of Fortune 500 companies".
    There are 500 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. He is one of them
    Yes, "CEOs" or "one of them" (one of CEOs) change everything. But the problem is that he says "CEO of a .... company", which means, talks about one company, and hence -- the particular SEO.:confused:
    ------
    "X = CEO of a Fortune 500 company"
    But you're just dropping an article before "CEO", and the problem is solved... So it's possible...:confused:
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    As I understand these two are identical. I.e. we can say: He wasn't just an owner of a business = The world has many owners of businesses...
    So you would say that in the movie it was said cumbersomely too, and you would prefer article THE there instead of A, right?
    No.

    "He wasn't just an owner of a business" is cumbersome because "He wasn't just a business owner" is simpler and is what we would normally say.

    You asked this:
    If you had to say "But he wasn't just a/the owner of a business", would you say either, both are correct?
    I agreed that (with the correction of "a" to "an") they could be considered correct.

    It's quite a stretch to claim that I should therefore agree that the phrase in the TV show was cumbersome (we wouldn't normally say "a Fortune 500 company CEO," so the same logic does not apply), or that for some reason the grammatical correctness of your two alternate versions should mean that I prefer "the CEO…" in the original sentence (which I and others have been telling you all along is not how it would normally be said).
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    But you're just dropping an article before "CEO", and the problem is solved... So it's possible...:confused:
    No I'm not, I'm just saying if we say in general "{X}={CEO of a Fortune 500 company}" It's when we put it into a sentence that we need an article. He is an {X}. He is the {X}.
    There are many {CEO of a Fortune 500 company}. He is one of them so he is an {X}. Articles all present and correct. If it helps you understand the properties of X , think of it as all one word: CEOofaFortune500company. He is one of those. Which company it is, is completely irrelevant.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Or, another way to look at it: "He wasn't just a Fortune 500 company's CEO..." (We don't know which one and it doesn't really matter. It describes a certain category of very powerful CEOs.)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I like James's version, but my preference would be to omit the possessive suffix from company, or even to leave company out altogether.
    It seems perfectly clear what "a Fortune 500 CEO" is, and perhaps this version will be more comprehensible to Vik.
     

    VicNicSor

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you everyone.

    I understand all the the ideas:
    a CEOofaFortune500company
    a Fortune 500 company's CEO
    one of many many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies
    etc.

    But tha phrase "CEO of a Fortune 500 company" itself requires rticle THE. And when you say:
    I'm just saying if we say in general "{X}={CEO of a Fortune 500 company}" It's when we put it into a sentence that we need an article. He is an {X}.
    ... that means that you have to drop article THE that goes with CEO in order to replace it with article A that goes with the whole phrase. Otherwise, ot would have to be:
    a {the CEO of a Fortune 500 company}:eek:
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    But tha phrase "CEO of a Fortune 500 company" itself requires rticle THE.
    No. You shouldn't look at the noun phrase "CEO of a big company" in isolation and say that it always requires the in front of it.
    It always depends on context. If we were talking about a particular big company, which obviously only has one CEO, then we would normally use the because he would be unique in the context of his company.
    But in our example it is irrelevant which big company Drake was CEO of, it only mattered that it was big (very big, one of the 500 biggest).
    What was he? He was a CEO. But not just any CEO, he was a special CEO. Special in what way? In that his company was very big.
    But he was only special, not unique, and therefore does not deserve "the".

    The explanation of why it is OK to use a rather than the in our example is to consider how it would look if we could find or invent a one-word abbreviation for "CEO of a Fortune 500 company". We could call this type of CEO "X", as Julian did, or if you want something less abstract, let's use "mega-CEO". Then if we made this replacement in the original text, you would agree, I'm sure, that the would be incorrect and it must be a: "..wasn't just a mega-CEO but also a friend of the AG".

    OK? Now, undo the replacement and put the original words back in, but still think of the phrase "CEO of a Fortune 500 company" as representing a unit, a member of the group of all CEOs of F500 companies. That way, you can (and should) stick a in front of it, not the. But if you don't think of it like that, then you probably should use the.

    In the original text, both versions (with 'a' and with 'the') would be correct, and they have ultimately the same meaning, but they would represent different ways of looking at it.
    Actually a third version (with no article) would also work: "...wasn't just CEO of a F500 company but also...".
    ... that means that you have to drop article THE that goes with CEO in order to replace it with article A that goes with the whole phrase. Otherwise, ot would have to be:
    a {the CEO of a Fortune 500 company}:eek:
    No, the idea was that there was never a the to drop, we just invented a word, X, or mega-CEO, to replace the phrase "CEO of...", not the phrase "the CEO of..." or the phrase "a CEO of...". That way our X is flexible and can be combined with whichever article is appropriate for the context in which we want to use it.
     
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