Is there any difference between these sentences apart from structure?

The tiger is a ferocious animal.
Tigers are ferocious animals.


3 Answers 3


When you say "The tiger", it is a stand-in for "all tigers"; apart from having to make the subject and verb agree, the two sentences are the same.

You can use the same equivalence in other cases that don't look exactly the same:

"Man is mortal." / "All men are mortal." (Note that in this usage, "men" is gender-neutral.)

"Humankind is fallible." / "All humans are fallible."

"Art nurtures the soul." / "The arts nurture the soul."

  • Good examples, except that the arts has a broader meaning than art: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_arts
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jun 6, 2011 at 1:22
  • 1
    @z7sg - Just because Wikipedia sez it, don't make it so. I do agree that "art" generally refers to "the visual arts", but "Art" refers to all arts - the fact that it's the first word of the sentence did obscure the capitalization, it's true. The epigram "Ars longa, vita brevis" (Art is long, but life is short) is ascribed to Hippocrates, and I never heard of him picking up a brush.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 6, 2011 at 1:26
  • I didn't mention painting. Here two clearly distinct meanings 1, 2 oxforddictionaries.com/definition/art#m_en_gb0041510.004
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jun 6, 2011 at 1:29
  • @z7sg - Also, amusingly, where the Wiki entry says "It is a broader term than 'art'"... if you click the word "art", the first paragraph begins: <<Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, photography, sculpture, and paintings. >> So pffft to the logical consistency of Wikipedia.
    – MT_Head
    Jun 6, 2011 at 1:30
  • Put more simply, "art" can refer to the "products of creativity" whereas "the arts" can't. So it isn't equivalent in the same way as "the tiger"/"all tigers". Maybe I am being pedantic, but that's half my motivation here.
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jun 6, 2011 at 1:37

There is no difference.
Both refer to the fact that the tiger is an animal, and a ferocious one.


No real difference.

I would say the second one ("tigers are ferocious animals") would be more common in everyday speech or writing.

The first one ("the tiger is a ferocious animal") sounds like it would be in a more formal setting like a documentary film or TV show about tigers, or in a research paper, when you are talking about "the tiger" as a collective animal species.

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