3

1) 'Men' have a tendency to believe that 'women' were created for their pleasure.

2) A 'man' has a tendency to believe that a 'woman' was created for his pleasure.

3) A 'man' has a tendency to believe that 'women' were created for his pleasure.

Sentence 1) is an example of generic noun phrase which applies to all men and women.

Do sentences 2) & 3) also carry the same meaning as 1) ?

  • 2. and 3. refer to a man and a women in general, respectively. They have the sense of "any", "any woman", "any man". – user178049 Apr 13 '17 at 18:36
  • I looked up the definition of definite article and it reads like this - "We use the definite article in front of a noun when we believe the reader knows exactly what we are referring to". This is also a sentence which expresses generality so can we use 'readers' instead of 'reader' to mean the same ? – Brock Apr 13 '17 at 18:46
  • But this is an indefinite article :) – user178049 Apr 13 '17 at 18:47
  • 'We use the definite article in front of a noun when we believe 'readers' know exactly what we are referring to'. Vs 'We use the definite article in front of a noun when we believe the 'reader' knows exactly what we are referring to'. Vs 'We use the definite article in front of a noun when we believe 'a reader' knows exactly what we are referring to'. Vs 'We use the definite article in front of 'nouns' when we believe 'the reader' knows exactly what we are referring to. Do all mean the same or they mean differently ? – Brock Apr 13 '17 at 19:20
  • It's understood differently. But the definite article is more likely in that context. You should post a new question about that, it cannot be answered in comment. – user178049 Apr 13 '17 at 19:28
1

More or less, they do. The obvious difference is singular vs plural, but it really makes little difference in this context. I'll abstract it out a bit, which might be helpful:

  1. [People in a group] have a tendency to believe x about [people in a different group].
  2. A [person in a group] has a tendency to believe x about a [person in a different group].
  3. A [person in a group] has a tendency to believe x about [people in a different group].

Since you're saying that there is a tendency, that means that it's often likely that something is true, and whether you refer to an individual in that group or the group as a whole, the end result is the same, you're describing a generality about individuals in a group (otherwise known as a stereotype). In every case you are saying that many, but not all have this belief.

0

While you could use "a man" where it could be any single unspecified man, as in:

A man went to the store.

your example implies a generality (tendency), so I read it as referring to a group.
Therefore, you should use plural nouns.

1) Men have a tendency to believe that women were created for their pleasure.

unless there is some other intended meaning in context.

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