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Do these sentences mean the same thing?, Or is "oranges" more specific than An orange.

1 An orange has lots of vitamin C.

2 Oranges have lots of vitamin C.

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    Both are the same.
    – Anonymous
    Jul 31 '20 at 11:34
  • @Anonymous don't do that. Don't put a half answer in a comment. Either answer properly or don't answer at all.
    – James K
    Jul 31 '20 at 22:48
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It's actually the reverse: an orange is more specific than oranges.


An orange specifies a single orange. It could even be paraphrased using that word:

  • A single orange has lots of vitamin C.
  • One orange has lots of vitamin C.

Oranges describes oranges in a general sense, not a specific sense. Although the meaning of an orange could be inferred, certain sentences would make no sense with such an inference:

  • ✔ People built the pyramids.
  • ✘ A person built the pyramids.

In that construction, it's only possible for many people, working together, to have done something.


A thing is more specific than things. Rather than referring to a vague grouping of things, where an actual number is not specified, a thing gives an explicit number: one.


Note that a more specific meaning you could provide would be something like this:

  • One of these oranges has lots of vitamin C.
  • An orange from this group has lots of vitamin C.

In those sentences, you're not just talking about any single orange, but a single orange from a specifically identified set.


And the most specific meaning you could provide would be this:

  • This orange has lots of vitamin C.

It's no longer any single orange from a particular set, but one specific orange as opposed to any others at all.

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