(the) people in America are aware


Hi there, can I use the plural nouns in the given sentences with and without the. What difference in meaning does the create in the sentences? And as an English speaker which one sounds best to your ears?

  1. John, I have been to many countries in my life. I can tell you one thing that (the) people in America are politically very aware.
  2. (The) students at this school are diligent, intelligent and smart.
As an ESL learner it confuses me a lot because I have seen sentences like these are used both with and without the. And I can't figure it out. Could anyone please explain?

My probelms begin when nouns with plural from come before prepositions like -(the) people in America, (the) teachers at this scool.
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  • tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    I see no significant difference between those two sentences with or without 'the'.

    Here's what owlman said to someone in another thread:

    I hate to see you tie yourself into knots in your efforts to establish firm rules that govern the meaning and use of articles. They reflect the speaker's momentary point of view regarding some noun, and the choices are sometimes random and arbitrary.

    This bothers many ESL students, but it is simply the truth. Good grammar texts can offer you reliable guidance in many of the different reasons for using one article or another, but those texts cannot eliminate all of the randomness and ambiguity involved in their use.


    Thank you. I have noticed it is said that without the the sentences mean majority of people in America and majority of students at this school. Is it right?


    Senior Member
    US English
    "The people in America" = "the people that are in America". This means everybody. In general putting "the" before a group means "everything in the group".

    "People in America" can mean some people, many people, all people, typical people, most people...in America.