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This site says:

Using a plural form of a countable noun when you want to make a general statement about all things of a particular type.

Books are so important in my life. (all books in general)

Apples are delicious. (all apples in general)

So, when we say "Apples" in plural form without "the", we mean "all apples on earth" (in America or in Japan or in supermarkets or etc). It does not matter where they come from as long as they are apples.

So, If that is the case, then "If we use a plural form of a countable noun, then we can not add a prepositional phrase to it right??? Because if we do that, then we break the rule right???"

Let say we add a prepositional phrase "in Japan" to "apples" to form "Apples in Japan are delicious".

But "apples in Japan" refers to a subset of "apples" while "apples" refers to "all apples on earth".

So, "Apples in Japan are delicious" is wrong because "apples" without "the" refers to "all apples on earth".

The above site also says:

You can add a prepositional phrase or a relative clause when you need to show which person or thing you are talking about.

I've no idea about the geography of Scotland.

That is a different man to the man that I knew.

So, change "Apples in Japan are delicious" to "The apples in Japan are delicious"

What does "Using a plural form of a countable noun when you want to make a general statement about all things of a particular type." actually mean?

Does "Apples in Japan are delicious" sound wrong?

Do we have to change "Apples in Japan are delicious" to "The apples in Japan are delicious"

What about "Japanese apples are delicious"?

Note: "Apples in Japan are delicious" = "Apples (that are) in Japan are delicious"

  • I agree that "I like [apples in Japan]" is wrong. This seems related to me to your question on ELL, so I will link it: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/123980/… – sumelic Mar 30 '17 at 0:20
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    I like apples in japan means I like apples when I'm in japan. It is a different thing, different construction. But I like the apples in japan means I like all the apples available in Japan. – vickyace Mar 30 '17 at 0:21
  • @vickyace, Note: "I like apples in Japan" = "I like apples (that are) in Japan" – Tom Mar 30 '17 at 0:31
  • @Tom So they aren't susceptible to other interpretations? Because I think unless everything is clearly stated, different people might perceive it differently, especially for non-native speakers. – vickyace Mar 30 '17 at 0:35
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    I have no idea. But I'd point out that "Apples in Japan are expensive" seems perfectly idiomatic (and true), while "The apples in Japan are expensive" sounds a bit weird to my ears. Whereas the reverse seems true for the "delicious" case, to my ears at least. – Steve Bennett Mar 30 '17 at 6:07
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I like apples in Japan

Means something rather different than you seem to expect. It has the same meaning as "In Japan, I like apples." If you say "I like the apples in Japan" it does indeed mean "I like the apples that are in Japan."

It is perfectly possible to use a preopsitional phrase with this form. For example, "I like apples after dinner" means you like any old apple after dinner only. You may not like them in the morning, but after dinner you could scoff a barrel of them....

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    When the sentence "I like apples in Japan" is interpreted with the meaning you describe, "apples in Japan" does not constitute a single phrase; "apples" and "in Japan" just happen to be next to each other. It's a completely different structure from "I like the apples in Japan." A pronoun substitution test demonstrates this: "I like the apples in Japan" can be validly paraphrased as "I like them" and cannot be paraphrased as "I like them in Japan," but "I like apples in Japan" cannot be validly paraphrased as "I like them" and must be paraphrased as "I like them in Japan." – sumelic Mar 30 '17 at 1:13
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    So, How about "Apples in Japan are delicious" ? is it wrong to say that? – Tom Mar 30 '17 at 2:10
  • Sorry guys! I confused you. I modified the example. I want to mean "Apples in Japan are delicious". So, please read my question again. – Tom Mar 30 '17 at 2:16
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From (thefreedictionary.com) Collins COBUILD English Usage:

You can use the with the singular form of a countable noun when you want to make a general statement about all things of a particular type.

The computer allows us to deal with a lot of data very quickly.

My father's favourite flower is the rose.

Be Careful! You can make a similar statement using a plural form. If you do this, don't use 'the'.

It is then that computers will have their most important social effects.

Roses need to be watered frequently.

The rule clearly states that "the" is used with singular countable nouns to generalize all things of a particular class. The rule again states that "the" is not used with plural nouns to generalize all things of a particular class.

Let's say: The mango is my favourite fruit. Or, Mangoes are my favourite fruit.

There are many types of fruits in the world; the mango is a particular class among them and all types of mangoes are my favourite. (Here we are talking in general about a particular class of fruits).

The Indian mango is my favourite (mango). Or, Indian mangoes are my favourite.

There are many types of mangoes in the world; the Indian mango is a particular class among them and there are different varieties of Indian mangoes; all types of Indian mangoes are my favourite. (Here we are talking in general about a particular class of mangoes).

  • How does this answer the question? – Peter Shor Mar 30 '17 at 3:46
  • The OP thinks of the generalization in the 'world-level' only, and he can't think of generalizing within a class. In my examples 'Indian mangoes' means 'mangoes of India' which is, though, a prepositional phrase can act as the subject of the sentence and generalize the meaning within its range. He is mixing up by creating prepositional phrases one of the other uses of the (the particularization of persons/things using prepositional phrases) with this rule of using the for generalization of ideas! – mahmud koya Mar 30 '17 at 4:31

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