There are two kinds of NPs existential and definite. Sometimes NP that we would expect to be existential behave as they are actually definite. One example of such NPs are those that are kind-denoting.

ex: The snake is a cold blood animal. The rose is a flower.

These sentences have general meaning and we would expect them to have existential meaning and take indefinite article. However, they take definite article and have definite meaning.

Could any one give examples of relative clauses that have kind-denoting meaning and are definite or is there any articles on this topic?

Thank you.

  • 1
    There are two kinds of NPs existential and definite. Where did this come from, and whose terminology is it? And how is either one different from Generic NPs? Linguistic terminology is not absolute -- you have to provide examples to show the phenomenon you're using the term for. Not the other way around.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 3:59
  • We have two kind of rattlesnakes here: the rattlesnake that breeds in caves, and the one that breeds in sand dunes. — Or is this not what you meant?
    – Cerberus
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 14:59
  • These are not standard terms; or rather, existential has a meaning, but it refers to quantifiers, and definite has a meaning, but it refers to articles. They are not in contrast, and neither is a definitive categorization for NPs. So it's hard to tell what's involved, especially given the flat law-like character of the first sentence.
    – jlawler
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 19:58
  • well actually I am not exactly sure about these terms that's why I have asked for examples. Nevertheless, I would try to explain what I am asking in more details. noun phrases are divided into definite and indefinite ones. There are different definitions of what defenetness is that's why I won't try define it. However, there are facts that are generally accepted.
    – Dariya
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 23:19
  • Definite NPs are presented by definite article the while indefinite ones by indefinite article. as the book in contrast to a book. If I understood correctly existential NPs (or sentences, I don't know how it would be correctly expressed)is a subset of indefinite NPs. These are those that express existence or nonexistence of something and generally begin with There is/ There are.
    – Dariya
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 23:19

1 Answer 1


Bare plurals can receive a generic interpretation, in which case they've been argued to denote a kind. A few examples:

Dinosaurs are extinct. Horses are widespread.

Check out Carlson 1977 "A Unified Analysis of the Bare Plural," reproduced in Portner & Partee's Formal Semantics.

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