Both "Cats drink milk" and "Cat drinks milk" indicate generality, but is there any difference between them? Or when there is preference to one than the other?


Cats drink milk.

Means more than one cat is able to drink milk.

Cat drinks milk.

as written is not grammatical in normal usage, because a singular noun needs an article. So it should be:

The/A cat drinks milk.

The only difference is the number of cats involved.

  • Thank you for your answer. I thought cat without article when begins a sentence can denote generality. Apr 6 '16 at 21:59
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    @GamalThomas Only if the noun is uncountable ("cat" is countable, so it doesn't work). e.g. "Science drives me crazy.", "Respect is earned, not given", "Coal can fuel homes", "Orange juice revitalizes the body", "Love gives you self-esteem", so many other examples I can construct. Apr 6 '16 at 23:59

"Cats drink milk" is a general statement about what cats do.

"Cat drinks milk" doesn't really make sense, unless your cat is named "Cat" (not unheard of :-), or if you're talking about someone or something else named "Cat".

"A cat drinks milk" could also be a general statement about what cats do -- "What does a cat do? It drinks milk."

On the other hand, "The cat drinks milk" is a specific statement about a particular cat.

  • Thank you very useful but is there any difference between Cats drink milk and A cat drinks milk? They both denote generality but is there any situation I can use one not the other? Apr 6 '16 at 22:15
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    @GamalThomas They are generally interchangeable. The subtle difference between them is whether you want to describe a common trait exhibited by all cats, or a common trait exhibited by any single cat. Apr 7 '16 at 3:17
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    Actually, I know more people called "Cat" than cats. To me, "Cat drinks milk" makes perfect sense, but it's talking about a human, not a cat. Aug 16 '16 at 11:07
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    The cat in the cat drinks milk can refer to the prototypical cat and, if so, is being used generically. Compare The leopard is native to both Asia and Africa. Aug 17 '16 at 18:11

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