Acid rain has a devastating effect on <the> forest.

Sweetboat

Senior Member
Korean
I found this sample sentence in a dictionary. (link)

Acid rain has a devastating effect on the forest.

Here, does 'the forest' refer to a specific forest or forests in general?
Could it mean both? I think acid rain is harmful to any forest, so I wondered.
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    If I were writing this sentence, I'd probably write "... effect on forests." One of the problems with online dictionaries is that they take any examples of the word they find on the web - and the web is full of language errors. For one reason, a lot of it is written by people for whom English is a second, third or fourth language.
     
    If I were writing this sentence, I'd probably write "... effect on forests." One of the problems with online dictionaries is that they take any examples of the word they find on the web - and the web is full of language errors. For one reason, a lot of it is written by people for whom English is a second, third or fourth language.
    I don't think we need posit an extreme <scenario> for an unusual (perhaps) article. The sentence could perfectly well fit in many contexts where it's clear that a particular forest is spoken of.

    Also, as I'm sure you know, the dictionary's editors are choosing sentences from a vast archive; they would not likely choose an ungrammatical sentence by a non-English speaker as an illustration. The Web, of course, is filled with misspellings, coinages, emoticons, etc.
     
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