This question is related to the form of a noun, like whether to add an article or not in some sort of contexts.
Which noun form is natural and correct below?
I prefer train/a train/trains/the train to other methods.
I prefer pencil/a pencil/pencils/the pencil as a tool to write with.
To a non-native English speaker like me, when to choose a right noun form in expressions like above, they are confusing too much.
In my thought, as the noun should represent one kind among other kinds of things, adding the definite article at front feels reasonable, but on another hand, as the noun should represent all of many of one kind, a pencil or pencils feels right.
But as I intuitively and simply approach it, just "pencil" looks natural.
What is right here?
Thank you. :)