I have 3 sentences to describe dogs:

"The dog is loyal"

"A dog is loyal"

"Dogs are loyal"

According to many grammar books, all three sentences above are correct. I'm just wondering which one is commonly used by native speakers?

Thank you.

  • 3
    They are all grammatical, and they are all generic. But they don't mean the same thing, though they can all be true at the same time. For more details, see this answer. – John Lawler Jul 21 '18 at 23:23
  • @JohnLawler In this sentence "For centuries, the chicken has been raised for its meat and eggs", is it better if I replace "the chicken" with "chickens"? – Louis Tran Jul 22 '18 at 0:42
  • In that sentence, I would use a plural generic, since chickens are always raised in flocks, and since there's no need for a definite generic. I.e, For centuries, chickens have been raised for their meat and eggs. – John Lawler Jul 22 '18 at 15:30

when you are talking about something IN GENERAL, you use the plural form. therefore, "Dogs are loyal" seems to be the one.


If you and a person you are talking to both know which dog you are referring to, I think "The dog is loyal." is natural.

But as it is mentioned in the other answer as well, if you are talking about dogs being loyal in general, then it would probably be best to say "Dogs are loyal."

As to "A dog is loyal.", it is probably used the most when a person or something else is compared to a dog. On the website below, I found a few parts where they say "a dog is ...". I think it is rather poetic when you say "A dog is loyal."

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