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General reference

General reference means you are referring to a noun in a general way.

  • Countable nouns can have a or plural s.
  • Uncountable nouns have no article.

Countable nouns

Table for Countable nouns
Reference Singular

Plural
Article Noun
a. General Singular a computer
Plural - computers


Uncountable nouns

Table for Uncountable nouns
Reference Article Noun
a. General - information


Examples
  • A computer is a machine which is used...
  • Computers are machines which are used...
  • The Internet gives people access to information.

General reference is common in academic writing. It is used when giving general background or theoretical information about a topic - for example, in the introduction to a report or in a literature review.

Example from a report on greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases trap heat from solar radiation, similar to the way glass panes trap heat in a greenhouse.
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