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Can anyone explain the essential difference between situations where nouns are used in a general sense and where they are used to indicate a specific type or instance of something?

Specifically, I want to understand when to use a definite article and when to use no article at all.

Murphy (fourth edition) give as an example of the specific type:

When was the telephone invented?

and as an example of the general type:

Doctors are usually paid more than teachers.

In some instances, i get a sense of why the noun is treated as it is, but not always. Moreover, in the above examples, it isn't obvious to me that the author means "telephone" exactly as a type of communication, and "doctors" may be defined as a particular profession (not in general, but rather precisely this class of workers who are paid better than others).

  • Yes you did, and you didn't ask a question. Try again. – Brian Hitchcock Mar 9 '15 at 7:28
  • Have you visited our sister site English Language Learners – Kris Mar 9 '15 at 7:38
  • Question in the first paragraph, the first sentence: "Does anyone can give essential difference between situations when things used in general and as specific type of something ?" – German Davydov Mar 9 '15 at 8:27
  • @German Davydov: I restated your question to bring out what I believe is its main point. The original wording was rather difficult to follow. But if I've misconstrued your meaning, you should feel free to roll back the question to your original wording. – Sven Yargs Apr 8 '15 at 20:23
  • Thanks a lot, Sven! Yes, you understood the main point of the question correctly. – German Davydov Apr 11 '15 at 6:05

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