Student or Learner
To generalize a countable noun, you should pluralize it, but sometimes it's confusing if a plural word is a generalization or actuall plural things. Is this "stores" a generalization, while the latter are actual plural thing judging from the context? How can you tell the difference between the two, a generalization and plural things?
ex)Gina is my best friend. But she has a bad habit. She steals things from stores. Last month, she showed me some things in her room:pens, magazines, and even some CDs.
ex)When you buy CDs, DVDs, books at a bookstore, please focus more on their quality instead of their prices.
In korean, the general idea of countable or uncountalbe nouns is expressed more in singular form than plural form, but they always translate them in plural form thinking they are actual things.
It's a delicate problem, but how can you always buy many copies of one item unless you are rich? I don't think this is tremendously important, but to grasp the difference between general idea and actual plural things, it matters to some extent, and I need your help to tell the difference.
I think your your Korean language background is making you see a problem in English that is not there. In the sentences below, the speaker is probably making a general point. However, it does not make any real difference is s/he is talking about a real CD, DVD or book that s/he knows the person addressed is planning to buy tomorrow. Both these sentences are possible:
1. When you buy a CD, DVDs or book at a bookstore, please focus more on its quality instead of (or rather than) its price.
2. When you buy CDs, DVDs or books at a bookstore, please focus more on their quality instead of (or rather than) their prices.
If the speaker knows that only one CD, DVD, or book is to be purchased, then only #1 is appropriate. If the speaker knows that more than one is to be purchased, then only #2 is appropriate. If the quantity is unknown, then either works.
However, if the speaker is talking in general about the purchases of such item(s), then either sentence might be used. The importance of focus is the same whether one item is purchased or several items are. In the unlikely event of there being a difference in focus depending on the number of items purchased, then the speaker could make this clear by replacing 'a' with 'one' in #1, and adding 'several' between 'buy' and 'CDs' in #2.
I'm more interested in general idea like "Dogs bark" where dogs means the whole number of the noun family.
By the following part, did you mean to say the example sentences(1,2) can mean the same thing or they can't tell you if it is about actual things or general idea?
I'm sorry I'm confused.
ex)....However, it does not make any real difference is(if) s/he is talking about a real CD, DVD or book that s/he knows
Now I realized what you meant that, plural forms, whether they mean actual things or general idea, mean more than one item. That's quite different from what I knew. I thought when it is meant for general idea, plural forms can mean either singular or plural items.
ex)When you buy CDs,,,(by a speaker to general public)=> The CDs can be either one or more than one, it doesn't limit any number..
But you seem to be saying plurals are always plurals either in general concept or actual things. Maybe I'm wrong, but this is a fatal change for me...
Then, when you don't know the quantity, just trying to express a general purchase, would you say "CDs" or "a CD"? I think plural forms are preferred.
Last edited by keannu; 19-Oct-2011 at 06:54.