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The madrigal is polyphonic. (being polyphonic is characteristic of madrigrals)

Madrigals are polyphonic. (being polyphonic is normal for madrigrals)

A madrigal is polyphonic. (being polyphonic is required for madrigrals)

These are as opposed to

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.

Considering the explanations above, the bold part would be incorrect. Nevertheless, I cannot understand the bold parts well. I am really willing to get the red part as a rule of thumb for such a situation so that I could use the article A properly.

In a book it said:"the following is incorrect".

A computer has revolutionized publishing( being revolutionized publishing is required for computers)

My biggest question is only about the following. Would you please help me in a way so that I could use the function below for other situations like those above ?

being revolutionized publishing is required for computers)

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  • Nima, where have you read that the use of a means that the mentioned quality is required for the subject that takes the indefinite article? A computer has revolutionized publishing reads to me as There was (or still exists) a computer, one computer. It has revolutionized publishing. Quite a feat for a single computer. Aug 8 '14 at 14:29
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    The article a simply designates that you are speaking about a single object out of a group of objects that have the same name, depending on the context it can be used to refer to any one of the objects or a specific unidentified object in that group. "There is a computer that revolutionized publishing." "A computer could revolutionize publishing." Aug 8 '14 at 14:52
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    I am so sorry, as I forgot to write something. So, I have just edited it.
    – nima
    Aug 8 '14 at 15:46
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Considering the first 2 examples, the last statement is incorrect because it wasn't a single computer(a) or a specific computer(the) that revolutionized publishing, it was computers as a group. The correct statement would be:

Computers have revolutionized publishing. (having revolutionized publishing is normal, or a fact for all computers as a group)

"The" designates that you are referring to a specific object out of a group of objects.

"A" designates that you are referring to any one object out of a group of objects.

The flat screen is modern technology. (being modern technology is a characteristic of one specific flat screen)

Flat screens are modern technology. (being modern technology is a characteristic of all flat screens)

A flat screen is modern technology. (being modern technology is a characteristic of any single flat screen)

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  • Thanks. Considering my question above, However, I am having problem with the following. I cannot get it well. And, I am wondering what is its purpose:(being something is required for something reason. Or, why the writer has written it.
    – nima
    Aug 8 '14 at 18:19
  • @nima_persian Saying that it's "required" is a bit confusing and may not have been the best word for the writer to use. Using a phrase like "A [x] is [y]." is saying a property or characteristic(y) applies to each object(x) by default, or naturally. It's the same as saying "[y]s are [x]." but in a different way. A boy is male. = Boys are male. both of these phrases have the exact same meaning with no difference in nuance or connotation. Aug 8 '14 at 19:11

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