+0

Hi everybody,

I know that we can use "the+singular noun" instead of plural forms to make a general statement:

(1) (The computer)/ (computers) has brought about huge changes in education.

==> Here both "the computer" and "computers" are correct to use.

(2) Online learning requires (the teacher’s assistance)/ (teachers’ assistance) and involvement.

==> Here both form are correct to use.

But when I make my own sentence and apply the same rule above, my native friend say that my sentence is wrong with "the+singular form":

(3) Meals should contain various nutrients.

==>This sentence is correct.

(4) The meal should contain various nutrients.

==> But this sentence is considered wrong. Could you please give me an explanation when I can use "the +singular noun" is correct to use rather than plural forms in general statements.

Thank you.

+0
LE HANH 2383I know that we can use "the+singular noun" instead of plural forms to make a general statement

Yes, but actually not always. You have to be sure there is no particular referent that might accidentally be meant, so you should make sure the predicate can't be applied to a single instance of that noun. For example, The dog is hungry does not make a generic statement, nor does The wolf belongs to a pack of wolves. Yet both statements have a subject with 'the'.

Further, The elephant is a very large, gray animal is generic whereas The elephant exceeds two tons in weight is not necessarily generic; it could be a reference to one particular elephant in comparison to a (particular) whale which exceeds three tons in weight.

LE HANH 2383(3) Meals should contain various nutrients.

This definitely sounds generic because of the plural.

LE HANH 23834) The meal should contain various nutrients.

Here the sentence may be referring to a particular meal, say, for a particular patient in a hospital who needs certain nutrients.


In general, the use of the plural is the more reliable way of creating a generic statement. It doesn't require so much attention to other details of the sentence.

CJ

Comments  
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?

Thank you for your help.


One of my foreign friend ask me:

(1) Are foreigners allowed to buy houses in your country?

I know that the plural form work best as above, but I am in doubt that if "the+singular form" also work:

(2) Is the foreigner allowed to buy the house in your country?


Native speakers some time use "plural", sometimes use "the+ singular" to make general statements, this confuses me a lot.

LE HANH 2383(1) Are foreigners allowed to buy houses in your country?

This is not a generic statement. It doesn't make a general statement about a given class of people or things.

LE HANH 2383(2) Is the foreigner allowed to buy the house in your country?

You don't want this unless you are talking about a specific foreigner that you have in mind and a specific house you have in mind. This is not a generic statement either.

CJ

(1) Are foreigners allowed to buy houses in your country?

You said that (1) above is not a generic statement.

I think that (3) and (4) below is a generic statement:

(3) Foreigners are welcomed when they travel to a new country.

(4) The foreigner is welcomed when they travel to a new country.


I think (3) works, but (4) don't work.

Why can't I use "the foreigner" to talk about a class of people in the word.

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
LE HANH 2383I think (3) works, but (4) don't doesn't work.

(4) might work, but I'd change it a little.

The foreigner is welcomed when he travels to a new country.

This might work as a generic statement in some context.


On the other hand, I'm a little concerned that neither (3) nor (4) are actually obviously true, so it's hard to accept them as generic statements.

CJ