I was trying to tell a friend that in English statements such as:

I like dogs.

I hate people.

I love hamburgers.

General statements in English use the plural noun form.



Self edit: I apologize, I didn't originally ask a clear question.

I have already explained the grammar to my friend using examples. My question is what would a direct translation of the sentence "General statements in English use the plural noun form." be?

  • 3
    I have to admit that, IMO, "general statement" is also a little bit ambiguous in English. If I'm speaking to someone who might not have a linguistics background, and if it is not already very clear from context, I would probably say "In English, when we make general statements about an entire class of things, we use the plural form to represent that class of things." As to how to say this in Japanese, I'm not sure. Maybe along the lines of 「英語で、あるものの種類の全部について一般的な考えなどを発言しようとすれば、そのものの複数形を使います」, but I think there might be a much better way to say "class of thing" (あるものの種類 seems wrong). Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 8:26
  • 1
    Since, I'm the one that edited I will explain why I made the edits. I didn't bother commenting on each of them because I took the main point of the question to be the question asked at the top rather than seeking a check of the sentence at the bottom. (1) The word "statement" in English has several meanings. 発言 has one of these meanings, but it means more like an "utterance" than the sort of thing you're trying to use it for here.
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:21
  • 1
    (2) Similarly, the word "general" is pretty tortured in breadth of meaning. a "general statement" could mean either mean something that is often true or something that is always true. 一般 means general in both the sense of "common" and generalization (as in to make a generalization). I took your goal to be to say something that is true universally or true of a category -- at least that's what the sort of sentences above look like to me (I'm in philosophy).
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:23
  • 1
    (3) I changed it to 使っています because that seemed better to me for making this sort of generalized statement about use (vs. this sentence uses). This change might be in error or at least indifferent.
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:24
  • 3
    英文法書などではよく「[総称]{そうしょう}」という語を使うと思います。例えば『ロイヤル英文法』(旺文社)では「種類全体を表す用法( 総称用法)」とか、このサイトでは「あるものを総称して『~というもの』と言うとき...」、このサイトでは「 総称の複数形・・・ある名詞について、一般的な概念や、ある種類全体を述べるとき」など。
    – chocolate
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 4:57

4 Answers 4


"General", "generic" as grammatical term is 総称:


But it doesn't seem a well-known term except for grammarians (unlike 過去形, 代名詞 etc).

You can instead say:


一般的な発言 and 普遍的な命題 are likely to be confused with "general truths", such as "the Earth is round".


You could explain it this way...

  • I like dogs = 犬が好き
  • I like Dog = ドッグという人が好き・「ドッグ」というものが好き

  • I love hamburgers = ハンバーグが大好き
  • I love Hamburger = ハンバーガーという人が大好き・ハンバーガーというものが大好き


You may also like to mention that what is most commonly referred to as the "plural" form(複数形)of nouns in English is actually the "non-singular" form(非単数形).

This is why you have to say "I don't have any cats" or "I have zero cats" instead of, "I don't have any cat" and "I have zero cat".

The form "cat" is only used when talking about exactly one cat, in every other case it must be "cats". I really don't know why they teach the singular form first. I think this causes a great deal of confusion.


Er, I guess my comments wind up being an answer

You wanted to say "General statements in English use the plural noun form."

You came up with:


I would suggest:


I cannot guarantee this is correct, but here's why I'd suggest this:

  1. "statement" is a word with many meanings. 発言 means an "utterance" and in that sense reflects a statement. In this context, statement is a technical word for philosophy that refers to how we express a proposition. E.g., "dogs are cute." As such, the meaning that you're closest to sounds like a 命題 which is the Japanese word for this sort of thing in philosophy.

    1. "general". General is a word with definitions that can't all be used interchangeable. One definition is affecting or concerning all or most people or things (from google). Another is "not limited"; another is "inexact." I think what you're meaning in your sentence based on context is that we make universal claims in this way. So I'd suggest 普遍 over 一般, because I take 一般 to mean general in the sense of a "normal" or "common."

    2. I switched it to the ている for rather plain verb form because if memory serves me correctly that's going to better capture a linguistic practice whereas a 使う fits better with single instances of use.

Anyway, we'll see if these suggestions are upvoted or downvoted.


I see that nobody has mentioned [ 一般的な法則 ].


(in classical Greek)   . . . . .  また、<一般的な法則>を表現するときにも現在時制を使いますが、これも習慣と同様に過去から未来まで無数の認識をまとめて、一度に表現するため、時間的な幅があるように見えるだけなのです

一般的な記述, 一般的な主張, 一般的な表現, ...

btw, a general statement in English is often expressed using the singular noun (or nouns) :

  • "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose."

  • "A kingfisher is a kind of bird."

  • "A graphic engine generally consists of ... "

  • "Some parents believe a boy must learn to stand up and fight like a man."

  • "Horses are useful animals."
  • "The horse is a useful animal."
  • "A horse is a useful animal."

( The last 4 examples come from : http://forum.wordreference.com/threads/singular-noun-plural-noun-as-in-general-statement.2699000/ )

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