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Hi there, can I use the plural nouns in the given sentences with and without the. What difference in meaning does the create in the sentences? And as an English speaker which one sounds best to your ears?
  1. John, I have been to many countries in my life. I can tell you one thing that (the) people in America are politically very aware.
  2. (The) students at this school are diligent, intelligent and smart.
As an ESL learner it confuses me a lot because I have seen sentences like these are used both with and without the. And I can't figure it out. Could anyone please explain?

My probelms begin when nouns with plural from come before preposition like -(the) people in America, (the) teachers at this scool.
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  1. Here's the idea.
  2. The students at this school are diligent, intelligent and smart. Sounds like you are talking about all of them.
  3. Students at this school are diligent, intelligent and smart. Sounds like you may or may not be talking about all of them.
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cat desk Hi there, can I use the plural nouns in the given sentences with and without the. What difference in meaning does the create in the sentences? And as an English speaker which one sounds best to your ears?
  1. John, I have been to many countries in my life. I can tell you one thing that (the) people in America are politically very aware.
  2. (The) students at this school are diligent, intelligent and smart.
As an ESL learner it confuses me a lot because I have seen sentences like these are used both with and without the. And I can't figure it out. Could anyone please explain? ...

Regarding plural noun phrases with "the", Huddleston (Introduction to the Grammar of English) says "the reference is to all the persons, objects, or whatever that satisfy the description (together with any implicit supplementation from the context). ... Putting all before the emphasises, reinforces the meaning of totality, rather than introducing it. If there are three bottles on the table, two empty and one full, it would be just as false to say The bottles on the table are empty as to say All the bottles on the table are empty."

CJ

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Comments  

The deciding factor in the inclusion of additional words can be sentence rhythm. The extra words often give a smoother rhythmic flow in the sentence. In 1. the sentence is grammatical and has the same meaning with or without "the," but with the article, the sentence has a better rhythm. Similarly, in 2. the article makes the sentence smoother and more rhythmical. Some other examples:


The teachers at this school are topnotch. (The article can be omitted, but then the sentence sounds abrupt.)


The people you meet in bars are not the kind you want for close friends. (The article can be omitted but you have better rhythm with it.)


The kids in this neighborhood are friendly and polite. (The sentence is correct but abrupt-sounding without the article.)



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