The automobile has changed our way of life.( the is used for the class itself)

automobiles have changed our way of life.( automobiles includes all representatives in the class)

but not An automobile has changed our way of life( An is interpreted here as indefinite a)

The madrigal is popular. (being popular is characteristic of madrigrals) Madrigals are popular. (being popular is normal for madrigrals) *A madrigal is popular. (being popular is required for madrigrals) ... and of course this last conclusion is wrong, producing the star.

Would you possibly more simple explain the bold parts? and especially I couldn't understand what exactly the word class means here.


By class they mean everything that can be classified as an automobile, in this case. Referring to something as a class, means to you include all its counterparts in your classification and refer to them collectively as a group > a class.

This can be achieved with a bare plural:

Bats are nocturnal creatures.

Or with a definite singular noun:

The automobile has changed our way of life.

In reference to animals, plants, etc., a definite singular verb suffices to single out its entire general species, or more specifically its genus:

The bat is a nocturnal creature.

The vampire bat can feed on its host without being detected.

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  • Thanks. Nevertheless, would anyone please give me explanations for the other bold parts? – nima Aug 8 '14 at 15:43
  • The asterisk (*) is traditionally used to mark sentences as ungrammatical. That's what they mean by "producing the star." – CocoPop Aug 8 '14 at 15:51

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