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Please explain to me what is a general noun vs. a specific noun?
New Member02
Do you mean common nouns (like 'city' and 'person') and proper nouns (like 'Chicago' and 'Mister Micawber')?
Veteran Member88,937
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Anonymous:
We call it general noun if the thing in area A, is the same with area B, and others, e.g. Cats are mammal. Cats here is general noun.
But if the thing is different from other, it's called Specific noun, e.g. My cat has a long tail. Cat here is a specific noun.
And what grammatical relevance does that have, Anon?
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Mister Micawber,

analysing the class of nouns into general/specific and assigning these terms to them as their immanent features certainly does not have much to do with grammar as such, since this division is largely of theoretical interest to lexicology and semantics.

Besides, the division itself is decidedly unconventional - perhaps the author of the question could provide us with the source of this grammatical finding.

What concerns grammar, however, is generic reference that nouns may have. This is a case in point when we produce sentences like:

The tragedy and the comedy first appeared in Greece. - Nouns in this case are seen as denoting a genus taken as a whole, a thing taken as a type, a genre.

The comedy, in fact, was not very amusing. - No generic reference here, but a situational, or specific, one.

The choice of articles, as we know, is often directly affected by generic reference. Therefore, this is a grammatical matter.

Respectfully, Gleb Chebrikoff.
Regular Member628
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I see. Thanks, Gleb, but I hope it doesn't lead learners into writing sentences like the first, which should read:

Tragedy and comedy first appeared in Greece.
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Mr Micawber,

your hopes may prove futile if learners carefully study one or two textbooks on the subject. From these they will learn that using the definite article in examples with 'tragedy' and 'comedy' conveys a formal tone in generic use. What is more, learners can even draw distinction between generic use (referring to the whole class) and general use (referring to individual representatives of a class). Finally, the most capable of learners may go even further and find numerous examples of this usage in LOB and similar corpora, thus getting added evidence that knowledge is force.

Respectfully, Gleb Chebrikoff.
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using the definite article in examples with 'tragedy' and 'comedy' conveys a formal tone in generic use
It does not, Gleb, and your assertion that it does reveals that you are not a native speaker. Other members need to be aware that, in the face of your sesquipedalian garrulity, your advice is often very poor or downright incorrect.
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People in 'prescriptive' houses shouldn't throw 'prescriptive' stones, Mr Micawber. For some unknown reason, you fancy yourself a greater authority on English than Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum and other prominent scholars, of whose numerous researches you have, unfortunately, never heard. Anyway, as the original Mister Micawber says: 'Something will turn up' - it is never too late to learn something new, so don't give way to dispair. It is no use concealing one's ignorance and narrow-mindedness behind the status of a 'native speaker' - what is done by night appears by day, Mr Micawber. You can start your self-training by looking up the word 'courtesy' in a good dictionary and, after that, begin to use phrases like 'sesquipedalian garrulity' with caution and sensitivity. Let other members decide on my merits - they may pay attention to the number of best answers I have given so far as well as the way I address each and every one of them. When I think of all the mistakes and inaccuracies you have made during the time of my using the forum, such as *present perfect aspect and other 'pearls of wisdom' found in your posts, I find that the phrases 'very poor' and 'downright incorrect' can only partially describe your responses. Again, this 'article' issue seems to be solved, as I haven't come across any counterarguments.
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