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I have the sentence

People search the truth in science

meaning that people want science to seek the truth. I don't know why but in English you don't use any article here before "people". Is it the same in German, that is:

Menschen suchen die Wahrheit in der Wissenshaft

or should one use "die Menschen"? Is there any difference? Is there an overall usage rule?

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Note that there is also a difference between “in science” and “in der Wissenschaft”. – Often, “people” without article in English is equivalent to “man” or a passive construction in German, though not necessarily here. –  chirlu Jun 15 '13 at 16:18
So you're saying that one could write "Man sucht die Wahrheit...". I don't get what you mean for the difference between "in science" and "in der Wissenshaft", are you referring to the use of the article (der here, in the genitive) as well? –  martina Jun 15 '13 at 19:48
Pay attention, in case of singular, you can only omit the definite article if it's used as a personal name (e.g. Mutter sagt ...) or when using the imperative (e.g. Tür zu!). –  falkb Jun 17 '13 at 13:20
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Die Menschen suchen...

- A group of people OR in some cases humans in general

Example (group of people): "What they want?" - "The people (die Menschen) are looking for better jobs."

Example (humans general): "When it's could outside, then the people (die Menschen) are moving to warm places."

Menschen suchen...

- Humans in general

Example: "Humans (Menschen) are moving to warm places when it's winter."

I'd say, it's used like in english, think about when you use "the humans" and when you would use just "humans", in example, in german language, when thinking about the universe comparing humans and planets, I would always say:

THE humans on earth are fighting wars while THE humans on moon are peaceful.

If someone just asked me about good or bad things humans are doing, I will answer without article (so in general):

It's sad, that humans are fighting wars

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Thanks. Your answer is similar to Toscho's one up here, but I'd like to know, to make them really the same answer, what could be those cases when the article can stay (is useful) to identify humans in general, as you say in your first sentence. –  martina Jun 16 '13 at 14:12
@martina I've just extended my answer, hopefull it is more clearly now. It always depends on the context when you use the article. If you are not sure when to use the artice, just use it always and you are never wrong. Just sometimes it sounds better not to use the article, in case you are not talking about a (said in context before) group of humans. –  user2238 Jun 16 '13 at 15:28
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There is a difference between definite and indefinite (in this case null) article:

Die Menschen suchen … = Humankind in general / all humans do so.

Menschen suchen …= Humankind in general / some humans do so.

I guess that in this sentence humankind in general is meant. Therefore, both translations are possible.

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