Interested in Language
When we are saying a fact, for example:
Elephants have long trunks. (this is plural)
What about saying it in singular form? Should it be
- An elephant has a long trunk.
- The elephant has a long trunk.
Which is correct? I personally think that it should be 1. 2 sounds like that particular elephant has a long trunk but others don't have. Am i correct?
Thanks in advance.
[not a teacher]
An elephant has a long trunk. - always means a fact that applies to all elephants.
The elephant has a long trunk. - can be either a general fact, or a fact about a specific elephant, depending on context.
If it's a general fact, "the" references a hypothetical exemplar elephant. For example, in a film documentary, they might show you an elephant and say, "The elephant has a long trunk.", but it is understood that the fact applies to all elephants, and is (probably) not really referencing the one shown.