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In the sentence, "This is a flower." How can we both say that the "a" refers to a general noun (flower), yet also account for the presence of the specific determiner, "this?"

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    The specification here is with respect to the specimen under the speaker's scrutiny and its location, not to its possible inherent distinctiveness. Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 23:36

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In this sentence this is not 'attached' to flower and does not act as its determiner. It is a demonstrative pronoun acting as the subject of the sentence. The sentence may be paraphrased

This thing here is a flower. unless you are from Alabama, where we say
This-here thing is a flower.

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  • If I could, +10 for the SAE version. It's much more natural sounding. Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 0:41

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