Ask a Teacher: Foods We Count...or Don't

2018-09-15

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1
  • You probably know a lot of food words, such as bread, apple and rice.
  • 2
  • But knowing which foods are countable and which are not can be tricky.
  • 3
  • In today's Ask a Teacher, Abdo from Sudan writes:
  • 4
  • How do I know which foods can be plural? For example, if I want two of some food, can I say, "I would like two beefs" or "I would like two breads"? - Abdo, Sudan
  • 5
  • Hello Abdo and thanks for writing to us!
  • 6
  • To answer your question, it depends on where you are asking for these things.
  • 7
  • If you are asking for bread in a restaurant, you're probably asking for slices (or pieces), but in a bakery, you're probably asking for loaves.
  • 8
  • If you are asking for beef in a market, you're probably asking for grams.
  • 9
  • But, in a restaurant, you're likely to ask for pieces.
  • 10
  • In other words, you do not add an "-s" to "beef" or "bread."
  • 11
  • That is because these foods are noncount nouns - nouns that have only one form.
  • 12
  • They do not have a plural.
  • 13
  • Meats, grains and liquids are usually noncount nouns.
  • 14
  • Sugar, salt and pepper are, too.
  • 15
  • To show you are talking about more than one of these nouns, you put another word or phrase in front of them.
  • 16
  • Often different foods take different wording.
  • 17
  • Below are some common phrases you might use:
  • 18
  • Two bowls of rice
  • 19
  • Two ears of corn
  • 20
  • Two bags of flour
  • 21
  • Two pieces or loaves of bread
  • 22
  • "Piece" also works for meats when you are asking for an amount of food for a plate:
  • 23
  • Two pieces of chicken
  • 24
  • Two pieces of lamb
  • 25
  • Two pieces of fish
  • 26
  • Two pieces of beef
  • 27
  • If you are shopping in a market, you might ask for two grams of chicken, lamb or other meat.
  • 28
  • With liquids, you often describe the container it comes in.
  • 29
  • Two glasses of water, milk or juice
  • 30
  • Two cups of coffee or tea
  • 31
  • Two cans or bottles of soda
  • 32
  • Two pitchers of lemonade
  • 33
  • For sugar, salt and pepper, it also depends on whether you are purchasing an amount or just want a small amount for your meal.
  • 34
  • Two packs or bags of sugar or
  • 35
  • Two pinches or shakers of salt or pepper
  • 36
  • The good news is that most other food nouns are count nouns.
  • 37
  • They have singular and plural forms.
  • 38
  • For example, "apple" is a singular count noun. To make it plural, you can just write or say "apples." Whew! That is a lot easier.
  • 39
  • And that's Ask a Teacher.
  • 40
  • I'm Alice Bryant.
  • 1
  • You probably know a lot of food words, such as bread, apple and rice. But knowing which foods are countable and which are not can be tricky.
  • 2
  • In today's Ask a Teacher, Abdo from Sudan writes:
  • 3
  • How do I know which foods can be plural? For example, if I want two of some food, can I say, "I would like two beefs" or "I would like two breads"? - Abdo, Sudan
  • 4
  • Hello Abdo and thanks for writing to us!
  • 5
  • To answer your question, it depends on where you are asking for these things.
  • 6
  • If you are asking for bread in a restaurant, you're probably asking for slices (or pieces), but in a bakery, you're probably asking for loaves. If you are asking for beef in a market, you're probably asking for grams. But, in a restaurant, you're likely to ask for pieces.
  • 7
  • Noncount Nouns
  • 8
  • In other words, you do not add an "-s" to "beef" or "bread." That is because these foods are noncount nouns - nouns that have only one form. They do not have a plural. Meats, grains and liquids are usually noncount nouns. Sugar, salt and pepper are, too.
  • 9
  • To show you are talking about more than one of these nouns, you put another word or phrase in front of them. Often different foods take different wording.
  • 10
  • Below are some common phrases you might use:
  • 11
  • Grains
  • 12
  • Two bowls of rice
  • 13
  • Two ears of corn
  • 14
  • Two bags of flour
  • 15
  • Two pieces or loaves of bread
  • 16
  • Meats
  • 17
  • "Piece" also works for meats when you are asking for an amount of food for a plate:
  • 18
  • Two pieces of chicken
  • 19
  • Two pieces of lamb
  • 20
  • Two pieces of fish
  • 21
  • Two pieces of beef
  • 22
  • If you are shopping in a market, you might ask for two grams of chicken, lamb or other meat.
  • 23
  • Liquids
  • 24
  • With liquids, you often describe the container it comes in.
  • 25
  • Two glasses of water, milk or juice
  • 26
  • Two cups of coffee or tea
  • 27
  • Two cans or bottles of soda
  • 28
  • Two pitchers of lemonade
  • 29
  • Sugar, salt & pepper
  • 30
  • For sugar, salt and pepper, it also depends on whether you are purchasing an amount or just want a small amount for your meal.
  • 31
  • Two packs or bags of sugar or
  • 32
  • Two pinches or shakers of salt or pepper
  • 33
  • Count Nouns
  • 34
  • The good news is that most other food nouns are count nouns. They have singular and plural forms. For example, "apple" is a singular count noun. To make it plural, you can just write or say "apples." Whew! That is a lot easier.
  • 35
  • And that's Ask a Teacher.
  • 36
  • I'm Alice Bryant.
  • 37
  • Do you have a question for Ask a Teacher? Write to us in the Comments area. Be sure to list your country of origin.
  • 38
  • _________________________________________________________________
  • 39
  • Words in This Story
  • 40
  • plural - adj. relating to a form of a word that refers to more than one person or thing
  • 41
  • phrase - n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence
  • 42
  • flour - n. powder made from a grain (especially wheat) that is used in cooking for making bread, cakes and other foods
  • 43
  • pitcher - n. a container with a lip and handle that is used for holding and pouring out liquids
  • 44
  • singular - adj. showing or indicating no more than one thing