The (class) indefinite / A (any one) unspecific

Refer to typical characteristics and behavior

 

 

 

Typical of the class / Typical of any one of the kind

THE — THE CLASS AS A WHOLE

In scholarly writng and encyclopedias, the article the before a noun expresses a class. (Classifications are found in studies of biology, architecture, cooking, clothing , cinema, and other subjects.) "This is true of all members of the class."

ANIMALS

The LionThe lion sleeps much of the day.

The prairie dog is native to central North America.

The parakeet is a beautifully colored.

PLANTS

Banana TreeThe banana grows in equatorial zones.

Vitamin C and are contained in the orange.

The banana fruit grows in hanging clusters.  

VEHICLES, AIRCRAFT AND SHIPS

Compact CarThe sub-compact is a North American classification.

The hybrid offers consumers fuel economy.  

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

tromboneThe trombone is a brass wind instrument.

Tommy Dorsey plays the trombone.

 

A  — ANY ONE AS AN EXAMPLE OF ALL

In speech and less formal writing, the article a before a noun may express that the characteristics and behavior of one is typical of all.  "Take any member, and this will be true for the rest." (A is also used for items not placed in classifications.)    

ANIMALS

A lion sleeps much of the day.

Villagers know that a hyena can be very dangerous.

A parakeet eats seeds and greens.;

PLANTS

A banana makes an excellent snack.

A banana is a seedless fruit.

A plantain is similar to a banana.

VEHICLES, AIRCRAFT AND SHIPS

A sub-compact is a popular size car.

A hybrid is a fuel-saving car.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

A trombone is a very portable instrument.

I love the sound of a trombone.

 

unspecific and indefinite — Lions sleep in the day.

unspecific and indefinite — A lion sleeps a lot. (True for any lion.) / The lion sleeps a lot. (True of the class of animal.) [science]

specific but indefinite — A lion came into our town and ate a man. (It was a lion but we're not sure which one.)

specific and definite — The lion that ate the man was tracked and caught. (We know which one did it.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The – Classification

Instruments – Violin

violins in Cremona, Italy shop
 

Information given in a classification

Classification is used in various fields of study — biology, architecture, linguistics, business, economics, performing arts, and so on— as a system of placing items into increasingly specialized groups. 

Instruments > Stringed Instruments > The Violin   

The violin refers to any and all violins of the class of stringed instruments called "violin". 

"The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which also includes the viola, the cello, and the double bass. The violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the type of music played on it." — Wikipedia

"The violin emerged in its definitive form between 1520 and 1550 in Northern Italy." — Hopkins

 

 

Note the determiners:

CONTEXT REFERENCE EXAMPLE


CLASS OF INSTRUMENT


unspecific


Yehudi Menuhin plays the violin

ONE PARTICULAR INSTRUMENT

specific

Yehudi Menuhin was given a violin when he was seven.

ANY INSTRUMENT

unspecific

Yehudi told his students that learning to playing a violin took hours of practice each day.

ALL

unspecific

Yehudi believes that violins are the most soulful of all instruments.

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Famous Musicians and their Instruments

musician
 

 

Which instrument did each musician play?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Common or Scientific Usage?

 

 

 

Does it refer to "the class" or "one as an example of all"?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.