a + person name

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Karma Police

Senior Member
Spanish - Spain
Hello friends.

I would like to know what the difference between "The store was founded by John Doe" and "The store was founded by a John Doe" is. Is it simply that in the latter it is implied that the speaker doesn't know who that person is, or that he is not famous?

Thanks.
 
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Your question is a bit complicated because of your choice of the name "John Doe." I'll change the name in order to answer.

    "The store was founded by Fred Jones." = Fred Jones founded the store; the reader may or may not have heard of him, but the writer knows who he is/was.

    "The store was founded by a Fred Jones." = No one is expected to know who Fred Jones is, and the writer doesn't know, either.


    When you use "John Doe," by definition the person is anonymous: his (or possibly her) actual name is unknown. We would expect the sentence to read "The store was founded by a John Doe."
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, and sometimes people might emphasise that by saying a certain Fred Jones (which means 'a Fred Jones', as used by Florentia).
     

    Karma Police

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Spain
    Your question is a bit complicated because of your choice of the name "John Doe." I'll change the name in order to answer.

    "The store was founded by Fred Jones." = Fred Jones founded the store; the reader may or may not have heard of him, but the writer knows who he is/was.

    "The store was founded by a Fred Jones." = No one is expected to know who Fred Jones is, and the writer doesn't know, either.


    When you use "John Doe," by definition the person is anonymous: his (or possibly her) actual name is unknown. We would expect the sentence to read "The store was founded by a John Doe."
    Thanks! I've learned two things in one answer :)
     
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