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Hi there, is there a difference between a and the in the following context? As an English speaker do they both sound natural?
  • What is a/the computer?
  • A/the computer is an automatic electronic machine that convert raw data into useful information.
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Use "a" because you are talking about computers in general. "The" would mean a particular computer.

Comments  

Hello cat desk,


1. What is a computer?

It implies that the person, who is asking, doesn't know what a computer is. They want you to define it.

2. What is the computer?

It implies that the person, who is asking, knows what a computer is, but they are asking about the model of the computer.


3. A/The computer is an automatic electronic machine that converts raw data into useful information.

Here with "a", you define the machine "computer" in general, but with "the", you define a specific type of computer.

PS1. The verb "convert" needs an "s". It should be "converts" because the subject, which is "computer", is singular.

PS2. Both are okay and natural in the first sentence. If you mean the machine Emotion: computer in general, use "a". If you mean a specific type of computer, use "the".

PS3. The definition requires you to use "a" in the first sentence (in the question) because we define things and machines in general. So I recommend you use "a" in the definition. To me, "a" much more natural.

PS4. I'm not a native speaker.

Best wishes,

Joseph
 Englishmaven's reply was promoted to an answer.