1. A cat runs faster than a dog
  2. The cat runs faster than the dog
  3. Cats run faster than dogs

Are all three ways equivalent? In general which way is more popular

Edit: what about the "the cats run faster than the dogs?

  • 1
    Depending on context the second one could be referring to a specific cat and dog.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 3:51

1 Answer 1


They are, in general, not equivalent.

1 could occur in a simple story in which the reader is asked to imagine a scene. A cat runs faster than a dog. The dog tires. The cat escapes.

2 refers to a specific cat and a specific dog, both defined or implied by previous context. The statement might refer to particular animals (Mitzi the cat and Fido the dog). It might also apply to the species (the dog, the cat, the cow, the horse etc). In this latter case 2 is equivalent to 3.

3 is a general statement that applies to all cats and dogs

  • Can't it be an argument that in the 3rd case also, the dog tires, right? Just out of curiosity...
    – Ram Pillai
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 4:38

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