It's "Those who work at university are smart." or "Those who work at universities smart"?

There are many different universities for the mentioned people, but I just want to regard them as a whole/categorizing them in "university" category, it should be singular or plural in this case?

If both can be used grammatically please tell me the difference between meaning.

2 Answers 2


Those who work at a university are smart.

means you refer to any university so there is a general sense.

Those who work at the university are smart.

In this case you refer to specific one university.

Those who work at universities are smart.

In this case there are many universities but still there is a general sense as in the first sentence.

  • Isn't The university also refers to many universities as whole. Like we use The poor are.. or The rich are..? Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 3:20
  • 1
    @user178049 - Yes, you can use poor or rich like that, but those are adjectives; "university" is not. "The noun" means a specific noun.
    – stangdon
    Commented Dec 10, 2016 at 17:29
  • @user178049 They are actually different kind of words. The poor means " the poor people" so the word poor is adjective but it conveys whole meaning even if the word people is omitted or not said but always use "the" before an adjective.There are similar situations but I don't remember the technical term. On the other hand, the university is a noun. The university cannot mean all universities. You could say " All the universities in the country..."
    – Mrt
    Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 19:48
  • @user178049 However, if you talk about an invention such as a computer , the computer could but not always refer to all computers in the world or it refers to more like computer technology. For example "The computer is the best thing human being has invented so far".
    – Mrt
    Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 19:50

It's "Those who work at university are smart." or "Those who work at universities smart"?

Completely different. The first is a statement about people working in a university job being smart. The second is a statement about workers being in pain.

Presumably that's not what you meant, so let's change the latter to "are smart" rather than just "smart".

There still is a difference: a garbage collector (recycling assistant? Don't know the current PC term) or construction worker may very well work at universities but not work at university: "working at university" implies being employed at some university, "working at universities" only means working there (possibly at several different universities), but the employer might be somebody else.

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