Weak definites : Semantics , lexicon and pragmatics Ana Aguilar - Guevara This dissertation studies definite noun phrases like ( reading ) the newspaper , ( answering ) the phone , and ( going to ) the hospital . They are called weak definites because , in contrast to regular definite phrases , they can occur in contexts where more than one individual satisfies their descriptive content . In addition , weak definites exhibit a number of other peculiar properties . The main contribution of this dissertation is a compositional analysis of the meaning of weak definites , which is based on the intuition that these phrases refer to kinds of individuals . The analysis accounts for the special behavior of these phrases plus it makes a number of theoretical and empirical predictions , which this dissertation also aims to corroborate . This work constitutes a relevant contribution to the literature on definite phrases and weak referentiality . It should also be of interest to any linguist , language philosopher and psycholinguist studying the interpretation of various noun phrases , genericity , adjectives , meaning enrichment , and the lexical meaning of nouns .