the italicized NPs in (i) are interpreted generically.
(i) a The cat is a domestic animal b Cats are intelligent c A cat loves to sleep
In the semantic literature, generic noun phrases are analyzed as names or definite descriptions of kinds or as a special kind of generic quantification over the members of a kind. Sentences with a generic interpretation express a generalization or a habit, a state which cannot be said to be true on one particular moment. Examples are (ii)a and b.
(ii) a The sun rises in the East b John usually eats pork for breakfast
In many languages, generic sentences are in the simple present tense or the imperfective aspect.
- Carlson, G. 1977. Reference to kinds in English, Ph.D. diss., University of Amherst.