Articles before names

Hi guys, I have some questions concerning employment of articles before names of people and countries. And I don’t mean sth as obvious as, for instance, that we put “the” before “union/republic/state” or that we should put the definite article before the name of a family, e.g. the Browns. And that, unfortunately, is everything I can find whenever I try to look up what concerns me.

We all know that sometimes we can use articles before names of people; for instance, we can “meet a Jones in the street who claims to have been our friend in the past” or we can “meet Jones - you know, the Jones”. However, I frequently come across usage of articles before more compound phrases, such as “the famous Jones”. Even though I’m not 100% sure about that, I believe I have also seen such strange things as “the old Jones” even when there was no other Jones that I might have possibly thought of. Or, this is an excerpt of a Wikipedia article, “The show featured a standard formula of a 93-year-old Jones”. So, what about it? What do you think? Do we have to put any article before those particular names/phrases? And if we do - what’s the rule behind it?

As far as country names are concerned, I must say I have absolutely no idea how to explain this particular phenomenon. That is, how come you can struggle for “an independent Ukraine”? Just for the record - it’s not because the name Ukraine used to be written with the definite article; you can also struggle for an independent Poland and, I believe, also for an independent France and all the other countries whose names have never taken any kind of article.

Looking forward to seeing your replies! :wink:

(BTW, correct me if I made any grammatical mistakes while writing this post, I’m not a native speaker and I try to seize every opportunity to learn sth new)