I understand that an indefinite article + noun can refer to the whole class, but also refer to one of them. which of the following sentences are generic reference? Thank you.

  1. A horse is a useful animal.
  2. I don't have a question.
  3. I like watching a movie.
  4. would you like a sandwich?

1 Answer 1

  • "A horse" means "one non-specific horse".
  • The next "a" is used because "we classify or define people and things - when we say what they are, what job they do, or what they are used for."
  • "one non-specific question"
  • It sounds unnatural to me. I would say: I don't have any questions (but this sentence means something different)
  • "one non specific movie".
  • Note that you don't say that you like watching movies in general.
  • For example A: What do like doing after work? B: I like watching a movie. (=one non-specific movie)
  • "one non-specific sandwich"
  • Thanks for your reply. But in my opinion, the 1st sentence, would a horse refer to any horse? For the 2nd, if I say I don't have a car, does it still sound unnatural? Also, what's the differences between singular (a car) and plural(cars) in negative statements?
    – Zelin
    Sep 24, 2023 at 13:46
  • 1. See 3 websites.umich.edu/~jlawler/000001.html
    – Kyamond
    Sep 24, 2023 at 15:47
  • 2. 'I don't have a car' sounds natural to me
    – Kyamond
    Sep 24, 2023 at 15:48
  • 3. 'I don't have cars' - I don't have two or more cars but perhaps I have one car. 'I don't have a car' - I have zero cars.
    – Kyamond
    Sep 24, 2023 at 15:52

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