I like a cat./I like cat./I like cats.

Becky2030

Member
Chinese-Hongkong
Hi everyone,

I don't really understand the differences among the three sentences since there are no article used in my mother language.

In my opinion,if I want to say I like cats as a pet,I would choose sentence c. because it's not only one cat that I like.
But what about b.I like cat. ? Is it a correct sentence? or does it always need to put 'a' or 'the' before 'cat'?
I asked the same question to my former English teacher(Filipino) before and she said sentences a.b.c. all mean the same in spoken English
and it's just that when you write these in English language exams,you would have the differences...

a. I like a cat.
b. I like cat.
c. I like cats.

Could you please help me with this?

Thank you.
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    a. I like a cat. - This could be said if there is one particular cat that you like. A tomcat in a cartoon might say that, if it is ever said at all. :)
    b. I like cat. - This one is totally unacceptable unless you like cat meat :D It would be similar to I like chicken.
    c. I like cats.:tick: - This is the one you want, I suppose.

    Could you please help me with this?

    Thank you.
    I am sorry to disagree with your teacher.
     

    radosna

    Senior Member
    English- USA
    Hi there, Becky2030!

    a. I like a cat. :cross:
    b. I like cat.:cross:
    c. I like cats.:tick:

    Could you please help me with this?

    Thank you.
    Sorry to disagree with your English teacher, but as a native English speaker, I'll tell you that of the three, only c. is correct. It's not just a matter of a difference in an examination setting. We don't use a. or b. in spoken English -- nor written English.

    I can see why articles in English are really confusing when they don't exist in your native language. "I like cats" (or "I like dogs") is a statement of liking them in general. If you want to be more specific about a particular cat, you would have to specify this by saying something like, "I like your cat" or "I like this cat." You could also say something like, "I like some cats" (which would imply that there are some cats you like and some cats that you don't like). But you would not just say "I like a cat."

    I hope that helps.

    Sincerely, radosna

    P.S. By the way, my mom is from Hong Kong! :)
     
    Last edited:

    Becky2030

    Member
    Chinese-Hongkong
    Thank you for answering,boozer. So, when you like chicken as a meat to eat,you would say 'You like chicken.' and when you like chicken as a pet or animal,
    you would say 'You like chichens.'? How about saying ' I like a chicken.'? Is it also corret?

    If I say 'I like dog.' to English native speaker,would they think I like dog meat to eat?:eek:
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Generally, Becky I would advise you against using anything that looks like your versions a/ and b/ - you never know what exactly you are saying and the chances are you're saying something ungrammatical. :)
     

    radosna

    Senior Member
    English- USA
    Hi again!

    Boozer must have sent his/her reply as I was editing mine! :)

    Boozer's exception noted for #2 is acceptable in the context he/she mentioned. :)

    However, I really can't think of a situation in which we would use "I like a cat."

    You could say "I'd like a cat" ("I would like a cat.") --as in, you would like to have a cat. But one wouldn't just say, "I like a cat."
     

    radosna

    Senior Member
    English- USA
    Becky2030,

    You're welcome! :)

    Copyright, I think you could get by with your example, but it still sounds rather awkward to my ears. One reason for this is because your question was about preferences -- which is not exactly the same as likes.

    I realize you used the singular form "a pet" in your question. However, you're asking a question about general likes, to which I would respond with the general statement, "I like cats." If you wanted to keep the singular form, I think you'd really need to answer in a different way. Perhaps by saying, "I would prefer a cat." But then again, it would be more natural and a better fit to your question to answer with, "I prefer cats."
     
    Last edited:

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    What do you like as a pet?
    I like a cat.
    (As a category of animal -- and just one, not several.)

    You may not care for it yourself, but some of us don't have a problem with it and readily use it. And it's worth saying that I'm not making up some unusual use just to be contrary, but to point out acceptable usage.
     

    radosna

    Senior Member
    English- USA
    Copyright, point taken.

    Becky2030, I still think that if you're just making a general statement about your likes, it's safest to stick with "I like cats." You'll get no debate on that one. As you see, it was the one sentence we all agreed upon.

    As for the others, copyright has a point. But as he/she wrote in an earlier reply, it's contextual.
     

    Becky2030

    Member
    Chinese-Hongkong
    radosna,for safety,I'll just use ' I like cats' ' I like dogs.' sentences first.:) Thanks! Copyright,thanks for teaching me the details:) I have another question now.When you pronounce ' I'd like a cat.' and ' I like a cat.' These two sentences sound the same to my ears beacause I can't really pronounce the ' d '. Does the two sentences sound totally different to native speakers' ears? or there is only the difference in written English?
     
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