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Why is it right to say “The giraffe is found in Africa” while we can’t say “The bird lays eggs”?
Sender salma essam
Position Student

Who said that you can’t say The bird lays eggs?

We can use the with a singular countable noun to make a generic statement — that is, a statement about a class as represented by its typical specimen. This can be inappropriate when you are making a statement about a class of people, but if you’re talking about animals, I see no reason why you can’t say The bird lays eggs.

 

ed. 13/01/13

 
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Sender  Salma Essam
student

So which is correct (or more correct): 1. A bird lays eggs. 2. The bird lays eggs.

 
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Editor’s reply:
 
In this case they are both correct. However, we cannot always use the indefinite article a + singular noun to make generic statements. There are semantic restrictions. That is why the Grammar Reviews in Sec 1 and 2 say to use the + singular when making general statements about a kind of animal. So you should choose (2): The bird lays eggs. See here for more.
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Sender  salma essam
student

But I’ve read that “a/an” can be used to mean “any” and then it gives the meaning of generalization, e.g.: A good doctor needs a lot of practice. A tree needs water.

 
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Editor’s reply:
 
You can use the indefinite article to make a general statement if you mean any one member of a class of things. Any doctor needs practice. Any tree needs water. But you can’t always use the indefinite article to make a general statement. There are semantic restrictions. Please see the link in the comment above.
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