a/the young Abraham Lincoln

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  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "The" would probably be better. "A" is sometimes used when the person being referred to is an incidental part of the story, rather than the main subject:

    Poe spent many nights drinking in the company of various bohemians, among them a young Charles Baudelaire. (Not true, sadly.)
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Isn't the "A" a jocular reference to this part of the text?
    Many years later, also in a political campaign autobiography, Lincoln commented that his stepmother “proved a good and kind mother to A,” the “A” Lincoln’s shorthand way of referring to himself.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    Interesting, but Google gives much more hits for "a Young Abraham Lincoln was " than for "the Young Abraham Lincoln was"...
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    But there were MANY young Abraham Lincolns, and this was was just one of them - ie he was first a baby, then a toddler, then a youngster, then a teenager, then a young man, and so on - the text refers to a specific stage in Lincoln's life - as a young man able to help chop down trees, etc.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, it was really one person, but perhaps the writer just wanted to emphasise a particular stage in Lincoln's life.

    I'm only floating a possibility here - I really don't know why a write of that headline would choose a/the/neither.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    There's a place for "a".

    A young Abraham Lincoln once walked ten miles to return a borrowed ax. [A fictional anecdote.]

    It took place at a specific moment in time with the Abraham Lincoln who existed at that moment, one of many over the course of his youth.

    (The) Young Abraham Lincoln Was Basically Superman

    In this case, it's not localized to one moment in time, it's a summary of his entire youth. He only had one of those, in that sense. He was young, in the middle and then old. This refers to the young version.

    As Julian says, you could leave out the article entirely. Then it's not really a comparison, as in the version with "the". It's more of just a description/statement of fact.

     
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