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Specific and General

Nouns of any kind (count or non-count, singular or plural) may be "specific" or "general."

A noun is specific when the writer wishes to talk about some thing or things in particular.

A noun is general when the writer wishes to make a generalization about some thing or things.

Here are some examples that contrast specific nouns with general nouns. The highlighted nouns in the first three examples are specific, whereas the highlighted nouns in the second three examples are general.

My dad's company made a profit this year.
(profit = count, singular, and specific)

It hopes to make bigger profits next year.
(profits = count, plural, and specific)

They will invest the money in new machinery.
(money = non-count and specific)

Companies always try to make a profit.
(profit = count, singular, and general)

Without profits, companies would go bankrupt.
(profits = count, plural, and general)

Money is necessary to live.
(money = non-count and general)

Note that the equivalent nouns in the examples above are identical in form despite their different usage as specific or general. That is, in the first and the fourth examples, the highlighted noun is profit. In the first example, profit is specific because it refers to the particular profit that the company made this year. In the fourth example, profit is general because it does not refer to any particular profit; instead, it refers to a profit as a generalization, in this case, the goal of companies.