1) Studying at a good institute can really make a difference.

2) Studying at good institutes can really make a difference.

Do both the sentences carry the same meaning ?

  • The second sentence states that studying at one OR MORE good institutes can make a difference, while the first limits itself to one. Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 10:37
  • @Ronald Sole : Take the eg- Monkeys like bananas. Here, is 'bananas' referred to banana in general or more than one banana ? I guess it represents only banana in general irrespective of one or more than one banana. Similarly sentence 2) of my original question is also a general one therefore 'good institutes' should not mean more than one institute but just an institute in general. Am i right here ?
    – Brock
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 11:38
  • The meaning is different. In sentence one, the statement applies to studying at a single institution. In sentence two, the statement applies to studying at more than one. /I studied Russian at excellent institutes. [more than one]/ versus /I studied Russian at an excellent institute [only one]. The meaning is not the same. Compare: A good student is fun to teach. Good students are fun to teach. In this case, the meanings are essentially the same. If I were a teacher making those statements. I could make either statement to mean the same thing.
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 13:48
  • Consider two sentences 1) Do not make noise when you visit a patient in hospital. 2) Do not make noise when you visit patients in hospital. Here do 1) and 2) mean the same or different ?
    – Brock
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 14:39
  • Often, the a versus plural noun thing can be the same idea. However, in yours the implication is what J.R. has said below. It sounds like you studied at more than one. However with: A tiger is a ferocious animal. and Tigers are ferocious animals., the generality is the same. So, it depends on your specific context as to whether it is a real plural or a general statement.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


It sounds like these sentences are both stating generic facts, to any difference is negligible. I would say they mean the same thing.

If you moved away from the generic truth into the realm of personal experience, however, the implications are different.

Consider this:

Studying at a good institution can make a difference.
Studying at good institutions can make a difference.

Both sentences are saying that the quality of the school can make a difference. Because this simple truth can be applied to one or to many, it doesn't really matter which way you say it.


I studied at a good institution, so I got a good job. I studied at good institutions, so I got a good job.

In this case, the second sentence implies that you studied at more than one institution, so you wouldn't want to say that unless (a) you had studied at more than one institution, and (b) all of the places where you studied would be considered "good" institutions.

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