We discuss two groups of languages where article use contrasts in generic plural sentences but is
otherwise essentially similar. The languages in the first group (English and Dutch) use bare
plurals in the expression of kind reference (‘Dinosaurs are extinct’) and in generic generalizations
(‘Dogs are intelligent’). The languages in the second group (French, Italian, Hungarian) use
definite plurals in both cases (‘Les dinosaures ont disparu’, ‘Les chiens sont intelligents’ in
French). We account for this contrast in terms of a competition between definite and indefinite
forms formalized in terms of two O(ptimality) T(heoretic) syntactic constraints. The two
language groups are given a uniform semantics. The contrast emerges in the interaction between
the semantics of generic plural sentences and the relative weight assigned to the two constraints.
Evidence in favor of the analysis comes from the otherwise unexpected neutralization of the
contrast in pseudo-generics and anaphoric generics.