Which one would be correct English:

The tiger is an example of feline species.


The tiger is an example of a feline species.

It may be related to one of my previous questions titled 'One type of [noun]' v. 'one type of [plural noun]', but I decided to post a separate question in case there are some additional considerations I should be aware of

  • What exactly are you unsure about? What do you already know about indefinite articles? The 200 rep bounty tells me you're looking for something better than the basic definition of indefinite articles, which does explain why your second sentence is correct.
    – gotube
    Oct 2 at 8:14
  • @gotube please see the linked question. The response I got was something along the lines of, "Yeah, but in this case it's kinda treated as an uncountable noun" Oct 3 at 8:00
  • Almost every question with a bounty is a question that wasn't answered because it wasn't written properly, this one included. Everything I need to know to answer a question should be in the question itself, scattered in different places. I hovered my mouse to see the title of your other question, and decided it wasn't relevant. If there is something important at that question, copy-paste it into this question. It's unlikely anyone will make the effort when the OP hasn't.
    – gotube
    Oct 3 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


"The Tiger" usage in the above examples is correct.

Explanation: We can also use the definite article with a singular countable noun to refer to the entire class that the noun belongs to. This is often done with species of animals, inventions, or musical instruments:

Example: The honey possum of Australia is the only mammal that lives exclusively on nectar.

  1. Now we look into the usage of "a feline species."

Species is both a singular and plural noun.

Examples: A new species of this plant has been discovered.
(Notice the "has" indicating species as singular here)

Many new species of this plant have been discovered.
(Many and have are establishing species as a plural here.)

Also, species is an arbitrary example of the many species that exist in this world (Not like the earth, sun, or atmosphere which is unique). With arbitrary nouns, we use the indefinite article. For example, "An elephant is a mighty animal". Here, animal is an arbitrary noun as there are several animals that exist.

So the correct one should be "The tiger is an example of a feline species."

We use 'a' in this example as feline is a word (adjective) that starts with a consonant. Take another example, Black Rhinos are an endangered species. Here 'an' comes because of the vowel sound of the adjective.

Reference: https://www.mit.edu/course/21/21.guide/art-appr.htm https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/species#:~:text=(spi%CB%90%CA%83iz%20),to%20breed%20with%20each%20other

  • "If a word is countable (e.g. one book, two books), you must always use an article". You need to use an article with "two books"? Nonsense. You could just say "I read two books", or "I read both books".
    – Astralbee
    Sep 28 at 19:02
  • @Astralbee Yeah, that is correct. I did not reread it when I copied it from the Cambridge site.
    – brp7
    Sep 28 at 19:40
  • I have edited the answer instead of writing a new answer. Also, I am deleting the earlier comment where the Cambridge site had the wrong information. source mit.edu/course/21/21.guide/art-appr.htm collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/….
    – brp7
    Sep 29 at 16:49

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