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1. Leaves on the trees are yellow and orange.
2. The leaves on the trees are yellow and orange.
What's the difference in meaning between the above two sentences?
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Comments  
The first is odd. Since the trees are specific, so should the leaves be.
But #1 is quoted from an English textbook published in Taiwan.
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published in Taiwan
I think that says it all.

sitifanWhat's the difference in meaning between the above two sentences?

It's the same as the difference between a and the in the singular. Generally, a is used before a noun to show there is no definite thing in the world that the speaker is referring to (Any example will do); the is used to show that there is a definite thing in the world that the speaker is referring to (Only that particular example will do).

a leaf - the leaf
leaves - the leaves

But sentence 1 is nearly impossible to contextualize. If you get really creative, you might come up with something like this, but note that you may need to modify the sentence a little:

-- What are some things that are yellow and orange?
-- Pumpkins are yellow and orange.
-- Anything else?
-- Yes. Leaves on the trees are yellow and orange in the fall.

Even so, it's a bit weird. The native speaker's tendency is to go for Leaves on trees are ... or better yet, just Leaves are ...

CJ
Topic: The four seasons in New York
The four seasons are very different in New York.
In spring, the weather is warm. There are many pretty flowers in the parks.
I like to go swimming and play beach ball in summer.
The autumn in New York is very nice. Leaves on the trees are yellow and orange.
It is very cold in winter – there is even snow.
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Written by a Taiwanese child: 'there are many pretty flowers in the parks'.
His life was one of things always happening by chance.

Is the above sentence grammatical? Why not say one of the things?
It is a grammatical error in your original sentence. 'The/Those' is required.
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