Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. roseriver1012's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 273
    #1

    Question What is the difference among ways of referring to a particular type of thing?

    According to what I've learned, there are three ways of referring to a particular type of thing. That is, for example, a bicycle, bicycles, the bicycle. BUt I can't tell their differences. There is such a sentence:

    As we know, ___________ bicycle is sitll an important means of transport in that country.

    A. the B. a

    Which would you choose? And could you be so kind to tell me the differences among the three? Thanks!!

  2. roseriver1012's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • China

    • Join Date: Dec 2009
    • Posts: 273
    #2

    Re: What is the difference among ways of referring to a particular type of thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillnetter View Post
    "A" bicycle refers to any bicycle - "I want to rent a bicycle." (I don't care which bicycle, any bicycle will do).
    "The" bicycle refers to a particular bicycle - "That is the bicycle I want to rent". (Of all the bicycles in the shop, that is the only one I want.)
    "Bicycles" refers to one than one bicycle - "There were 40 bicycles in the rental shop".

    It seems you haven't got my question. I mean I think in English, there are three ways to talk about a type of things. It has nothing to do with a particular single thing (so-called "the bicycle") or a particular group of things (bicycles). What I care about is the ways of expressing the type of things in a general sense. How would you explain the following sentences?
    The tiger is without doubt the most magnificent of the big cats.
    A child needs love and affection.

    Both of them refer to all things of a particular type, but why one uses "the..." while the other uses "a..."? What's the difference?

  3. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #3

    Re: What is the difference among ways of referring to a particular type of thing?

    There isn't a great deal of difference in meaning between these three:

    Tigers are without doubt the most magnificent of the big cats. - The animals in general, as a whole.
    A tiger is without doubt the most magnificent of the big cats. - One member of a class to represent all members.
    The tiger is without doubt the most magnificent of the big cats. - Rather more formal generic reference.

    In practice, any one may be used,[/QUOTE]

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 24,502
    #4

    Re: What is the difference among ways of referring to a particular type of thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by roseriver1012 View Post
    It seems you haven't got my question.
    Roseriver, it would have been appropriate to start this post by thanking Gillnetter for the trouble he had taken in trying to help you.

    Note that 'the difference between. . .' is correct – however many things are being referred to.

    Rover
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 13-Jul-2012 at 09:07.

Similar Threads

  1. 2 different ways of saying the same thing
    By natalia wonders... in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-Oct-2010, 23:05
  2. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-Jan-2009, 13:55
  3. [General] Difference between 3 ways of saying
    By kalaialak in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-Jan-2009, 07:23
  4. type of trust or type of trusts?
    By musicgold in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 09-Sep-2008, 18:20
  5. Referring
    By AUTOMOON in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 24-Sep-2007, 10:51

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
  •