A / the telephone(s) can shorten the distance

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Ryan Wang

Member
Chinese
Hi guy, I am learning English. I found three similar sentences in a grammar book, could you tell me the difference between them? haha

A telephone can shorten the distance between people.

Telephones can shorten the distance between people.

The telephone can shorten the distance between people.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    There is no difference in effect between them. The definite singular talks about the invention, the technology, the idea: we would Meucci invented the telephone and Bell patented it. Plural telephones are just those machines you see everywhere. The indefinite 'a telephone' has a bit of an idea of "if you have one": if you have a telephone, you can talk to people overseas. Or: because I've got a telephone, I can talk to people overseas. We would use this form in: It would be useful to have a telephone (here / on your desk / in the house). But in your sentence all three of them come to the same thing.
     

    Ryan Wang

    Member
    Chinese
    There is no difference in effect between them. The definite singular talks about the invention, the technology, the idea: we would Meucci invented the telephone and Bell patented it. Plural telephones are just those machines you see everywhere. The indefinite 'a telephone' has a bit of an idea of "if you have one": if you have a telephone, you can talk to people overseas. Or: because I've got a telephone, I can talk to people overseas. We would use this form in: It would be useful to have a telephone (here / on your desk / in the house). But in your sentence all three of them come to the same thing.
    Well , thanks for you specified answers, that really helps me understand!
     
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