French to English quelqu'un

Dictionary entry: quelqu'un


English - USA
Mr. Dupont is a somebody: he is director of the international subsidiary.

It seems to me that this English translation of a French example sentence is missing an article. If the subsidiary has only one director, Mr. Dupont is "the" director; if there are multiple directors, then he would be "a" director.
  • Hello 🙂

    The omission of the article is by no means unusual in this kind of context. Here are some recent examples, all AmE:

    She is director of the Sociotechnical Systems Research Center (SSRC), associate director of the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), and chair of the doctoral program in Social and Engineering Systems (SES) at MIT's Schwarzman College of Computing.
    Source :

    Dr Mandy Cohen […] led the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services during the pandemic, and as of last month she is director of the CDC.
    Source : National Public Radio website |

    She was director of the International Research Center for the Humanities at Kyushu University and founded the peer-reviewed Journal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University, serving as its chief editor until 2023.
    Source :

    In the dictionary entry for quelqu’un, under the heading Formes composées, there is a French sentence illustrating the use of the expression quelqu’un d’autre : 'Excusez-moi je vous ai confondu avec quelqu'un d'autre !’. This sentence is unaccompanied by an English translation. I would suggest: ‘Forgive me, I mistook you for someone else.'

    I do hope that this is helpful.
    The omission of the article is by no means unusual in this kind of context.
    Perhaps so, but most of them sound wrong to me unless we're speaking in HR-talk where people are referred to by their job titles (as distinct from their roles)... in which case, I would expect to see the word capitalized.

    I do wonder if there is some blurring of usage due to the ambiguity of modern HR titles. I used to work in an organization with dozens of "directors." That was the title they had been hired under, the title that belonged on their resumes for the position, and the title the HR department would have confirmed if anyone asked. But they weren't directors of anything in particular, they didn't have unique and separate responsibilities, and they weren't in managerial/supervisory roles. An (uninitiated) outsider receiving a business card from one of these directors would have no way to assess whether they were speaking with the head honcho. I can see how one might avoid using either "a" or "the" in such a case, so as not to give offense by over- or under-estimating someone's professional role/seniority.

    "Director of XYZ" roles -- Director of Finanace, etc. -- are certainly capitalized, and as job titles they do get used without the article. For Dr. Cohen, I would have expected to see "Director" capitalized in reference to this single, nationally visible position.
    If [there is] only one director, Mr. Dupont is "the" director; if there are multiple directors, then he would be "a" director.


    I agree with you that the article, definite or indefinite, can be a valuable source of information, but its omission, however regrettable, seems to be well-established in this context. I suspect that this usage may have entered BE under the influence of AmE, but it’s just a hunch.

    I agree with both of you. Upswing is correct to say that you can use a job title without an article, although usually only when there is only one of something (e.g. Keir Starmer is Leader of the Labour Party not Joe Bloggs is shelf-stacker at Tesco's). However, I agree with jann that it doesn't sound quite right in this sentence. I've provided an article.
    Hello DrD 🙂

    Many thanks for your response. I fear, however, that the principal purpose of my message (#2) has been overlooked and lost in the discussion about the missing article.

    My main point, in the penultimate paragraph, was to suggest a possible translation of the example sentence, Excusez-moi je vous ai confondu avec quelqu’un d’autre.
    Hello Upswing,

    You are right, I did miss it.

    Sentences are translated separately from terms - this is largely to ensure that new terms/senses and their translations get into the dictionary as soon as possible. So, it's quite normal to see some sentences that aren't translated. We do also undertake regular sentence translation projects though, so those untranslated sentences will be got around to eventually. It's not necessary to report them. I have translated this one for you though, as you asked so nicely. You'll see it online after the next dictionary update.