You can know the age of a tree by counting its rings.

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keannu

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What do you think is the difference between 1 and 2 in terms of "a tree" and "trees"? Does "a tree" denote "an unspecific tree" or "general trees, generalization"? It sounds either way, ambiguous.

1. You can know the age of a tree by counting its rings. This is because each ring shows one year of wood growth...
2. You can know the age of trees by counting their rings.
 

tedtmc

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Both are general statements. They mean the same thing.
A general statement can be singular or plural.

not a teacher
 

probus

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I don't see any difference. In 1, a tree implies any tree. In 2, trees implies all trees. So logically they are equivalent. My preference is 1, but I wouldn't criticize someone who used 2.

BTW determine would be better than know in both cases.
 
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