Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. keannu's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea

    • Join Date: Dec 2010
    • Posts: 5,226
    #1

    plural or generalization?

    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.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #2

    Re: plural or generalization?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    She steals things from stores. Last month, she showed me some things in her room: pens, magazines, and even some CDs.
    They are all actual things.

    Could you give an example of a generalisation that you consider not to be actual things?

  3. keannu's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea

    • Join Date: Dec 2010
    • Posts: 5,226
    #3

    Re: plural or generalization?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    They are all actual things.

    Could you give an example of a generalisation that you consider not to be actual things?
    Dogs bark- generalization
    I saw dogs barking on the street - actual thing.

  4. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #4

    Re: plural or generalization?

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    Dogs bark- generalization
    I saw dogs barking on the street - actual thing.
    OK, but it's clear what the sentences mean. Could you now give an example of when you think the difference is not clear?

    In your previous example, the speaker may have not had particular stores in mind, but I don't think this is important. Do you?

  5. keannu's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea

    • Join Date: Dec 2010
    • Posts: 5,226
    #5

    Re: plural or generalization?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    OK, but it's clear what the sentences mean. Could you now give an example of when you think the difference is not clear?

    In your previous example, the speaker may have not had particular stores in mind, but I don't think this is important. Do you?
    This is kind of important as whenever I have my students translate a plural form, they interpret even generalization as pure plural form.
    For example,
    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.

  6. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #6

    Re: plural or generalization?

    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.

  7. keannu's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea

    • Join Date: Dec 2010
    • Posts: 5,226
    #7

    Re: plural or generalization?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    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.
    Thanks for your detailed number explanation, and I guess, according to your explanation, context is vital. If it was said to a person who's actually going to buy an item at a book store tomorrow, it means an actual thing, while if it was said to general public by a speaker at the conference of "how to make smart purchase", then it would be a general idea of any items.
    I'm more interested in general idea like "Dogs bark" where dogs means the whole number of the noun family.

  8. keannu's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Korean
      • Home Country:
      • South Korea
      • Current Location:
      • South Korea

    • Join Date: Dec 2010
    • Posts: 5,226
    #8

    Re: plural or generalization?

    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.

Similar Threads

  1. Make generalization
    By arzgol in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 14-Aug-2011, 00:56
  2. interlanguage generalization
    By gugui in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 24-Sep-2009, 05:54
  3. Singular or plural in generalization(#2)?
    By gorikaz in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 07-Mar-2007, 09:03
  4. Singular or plural in generalization?
    By gorikaz in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 22-Feb-2007, 13:52
  5. Generalization
    By gorikaz in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 26-Oct-2006, 06:05

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •