Grammar – When Is it OK to use ‘fruits’ and ‘food’ in the plural form?

Take a look at these two sentences:

I prefer to eat organic fruits and vegetables.
If you’d like to try something exotic to eat, there are special sections for foreign foods.

*Fruit and food are usually used in the singular form.

Quick review:
In English, there are countable (count) nouns and uncountable (non-count) nouns.

Countable nouns = things that you can count:
1 plant, 2 plants, 2 plants
1 tooth, 2 teeth, 3 teeth
etc.

Uncountable nouns = things that you cannot count, or nouns that represent a group:
information
advice
homework
furniture
clothing
grammar
*They have NO plural form.

Usually food is an uncountable noun. You can’t count one food, two foods, etc.

Do you have any food to eat?

There was so much food at our Thanksgiving dinner!

Food is also an uncountable noun when we talk about different kinds of food:

fast food
junk food
health food
Chinese food
Italian food

When I said foreign foods I used foods to describe the food from different countries:
foreign foods = Chinese food, Italian food, Indian food, Japanese food, German food, etc.

*In this case, it’s OK to use foods in the plural form.

Usually fruit is an uncountable noun. In English, we usually count fruit by saying 1 piece of fruit, 2 pieces of fruit, a bowl of fruit, etc.

It is OK to use fruits when you are talking about many different kinds of fruit:

You can find bananas, grapes and other fruits in the produce section.

Make sure to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Other uncountable nouns that can be countable:
BBC Learning English: peoples, persons

 


42 Comments on Grammar – When Is it OK to use ‘fruits’ and ‘food’ in the plural form?

  1. Zen
    October 26, 2010 at 4:57 am (4 years ago)

    hello melanie…
    i want to buy a domain name with two words, "four" and "food".
    So, is it right if i use fourfood(dot)com? or should i use fourfoods(dot)com?
    Thank you!

  2. Melanie
    October 26, 2010 at 4:23 pm (4 years ago)

    Hello Zen,

    'Fourfood (dot) com is right, but unfortunately someone already has it!

    http://www.fourfoods.com/

    What kind of website do you want to have?

    Take care,
    Melanie

  3. Zen
    November 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you Melanie…
    That's right, i'm still looking for a great domain name. It's a food related social networking site.

  4. Zen
    December 20, 2010 at 6:01 am (4 years ago)

    Hello again, Melanie…
    Finally, i choose ninefood.com.
    Thank you for the advice.

    ps.
    I would like to invite you there :)

  5. Melanie
    December 22, 2010 at 10:40 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi, Zen!

    Wow – your new site is very impressive! Is it a 'Ning' social network? Great job!

    I wish you lots of success with your new website!

    Melanie
    = )

  6. Ren
    January 9, 2012 at 2:41 am (3 years ago)

    Hello, Teacher Melanie.

    Is it okay to use the plural form 'foods' here?

    My favorite foods are chicken and pizza.

    Thanks a lot!

  7. Melanie
    January 9, 2012 at 6:38 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi, Ren!

    Yes, it's fine to use 'foods' in your sentence.

    I love pizza, too!

    Melanie
    = )

  8. amy
    April 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm (3 years ago)

    hye teacher melanie..
    hope you can help me to identify is it singular or plural form that i need to use for this sentence..:
    a company name, for example:
    Amy frozen food
    or is it
    Amy Frozen Foods ?
    tq teacher ! :)

    • Melanie
      May 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Amy!

      I’m so sorry to take so long to answer your question. I didn’t get an email when you posted this & I just found your comment today!

      What kind of company is it? I think it should be:
      “Amy’s Frozen Food” -or-
      “Amy’s Frozen Foods”

      All the words should be capitalized in a name. There are many companies with “Frozen Foods” in the title. From a quick Google search:
      Oxford Frozen Foods
      BC Frozen Foods
      Heritage Frozen Foods

      I hope that helps!
      = )

  9. Inese
    June 24, 2012 at 8:40 am (2 years ago)

    Dear Melanie!

    Roses have fruit that are used to make tea.
    or
    Roses have fruits that are used to make tea.
    (or Roses have fruit that is used to make tea?)

    Since (wild) roses have many fruits, which version will be the correct one?
    Thanks!

    • Melanie
      June 24, 2012 at 10:12 pm (2 years ago)

      Hmmm…this is a tough question, Inese! I had to do some research on roses.

      You can rewrite the statement:
      Fruit from a rose is used to make tea.
      The fruit of a rose is used to make tea.
      Fruit from roses is used to make tea.

      The fruit from a rose is called ‘rose hip.’ So, you can also say:
      Rose hips are used to make tip.

      I hope that helps!
      = )

      • Inese
        June 25, 2012 at 6:14 am (2 years ago)

        Thanks a lot, Melanie!

  10. Anne Estandarte
    December 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi melanie!
    Is it ok to use food in this statement? : we welcome u 2013 with these yummy food on our dinner table. ..
    Or should i say we welcome 2013 with so much food on our dinner table…
    What do think ma’am?

    • Melanie
      December 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi, Anne!

      You can say:
      “We welcome 2013 with THIS yummy food on our dinner table.”

      Happy New Year!
      Melanie
      = )

  11. John
    April 29, 2013 at 2:22 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Melanie,

    The following question doesn’t sound right to me, but I’m not sure why:

    “Is fruit the same as vegetables?”

    While alternatives such as “Is a fruit the same as a vegetable?” or “Are fruit and vegetables the same?” sound fine, “Is fruit the same as vegetables?” sounds wrong. Do you agree? If so, why is it wrong?

    Thanks!

    • Melanie
      May 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi, John,

      Why would you ever need to say “Is fruit the same as vegetables?”?

      Sometimes there is no reason why something is wrong. There is just an accepted & natural way of saying things, and an unnatural way of saying things. “Is fruit the same as vegetables?” is one of those things. It just doesn’t sound right or natural. I can’t imagine a context when you would want to ask this question.

      The best way to write the question is:
      “Are fruit and vegetables the same?”
      Although, I don’t know why anyone would ask that question.

      = )

      • John
        May 5, 2013 at 7:43 am (2 years ago)

        Thanks Melanie. I came across the question in a Japanese-produced book I’m required to use to teach English here in Japan. The question is followed in the book by several possible answers and students have to select the most appropriate answer (e.g. “No, they’re different”). Alarm bells started ringing, however, because the question itself appeared to be ungrammatical, although I couldn’t say why. Your answer is very helpful. Thanks so much.

        John

  12. ana
    July 30, 2013 at 11:33 pm (1 year ago)

    My favorite foods are chicken and pizza. That’s correct.
    What if you do this? My favorite food is chicken and pizza

    • Melanie
      Melanie
      August 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi, Ana!

      You’re right. “My favorite food is chicken and pizza” doesn’t sound correct. You are talking about two different kinds of food.

      Your first sentence is correct. You could also say, “My favorite kinds of food are chicken & pizza.”

      = )

      • ana
        August 12, 2013 at 1:50 am (1 year ago)

        Thank you!

        What if it’s one kind of food?
        “My favorite food is strawberries.”
        “My favorite foods are strawberries.”

        It’s much easier and simpler to say, “I like strawberries,” but many students start off with “my favorite food…”

        • ana
          August 12, 2013 at 2:12 am (1 year ago)

          I just realized I wrote “food” instead of “fruit.”
          “My favorite food is green peppers.” (Is this okay?)
          “My favorite foods are green peppers.”
          (or changing “green peppers” to “sweets”)

          “My favorite food is a green pepper” is grammatically correct, but doesn’t it sound weird?

          • ana
            August 12, 2013 at 2:29 am (1 year ago)

            Would you say:
            “My favorite food is green pepper.”

        • Melanie
          Melanie
          August 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm (1 year ago)

          I think many students start off with “my favorite food/fruit/etc. is …” because that’s probably taught to them in textbooks, and it’s a logical way to answer the question “What’s your favourite food?”

          You’re right, it’s much more natural to say “I like strawberries.”

          ‘Strawberries,’ even though it’s plural, is only one kind of fruit, so you can say,
          ‘My favorite food is strawberries’ even though it looks odd. The same is true for ‘green peppers.’

          Do you really have a favorite fruit or vegetable?!

          = )

          • ana
            August 12, 2013 at 7:39 pm (1 year ago)

            Thanks Melanie!
            Actually, I love blueberries!

  13. Densi
    October 17, 2013 at 8:28 am (1 year ago)

    All the fruits are edible except the pink ones.
    Is this sentence correct?

    • Melanie
      Melanie
      October 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm (1 year ago)

      I guess it depends on what fruits your are taking about!

      If you are looking at a table or box full of fruit, and you want to tell people which ones they can’t eat, you can say,

      “All the fruits are edible except the pink ones.”

      Although, “All the fruit is edible except the pink ones” is fine, too.

      = )

  14. Densi
    October 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm (1 year ago)

    Thanks Melanie

  15. Carrie
    October 30, 2013 at 11:36 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Melanie, if I want to order food in a restaurant that serves a cup of fruit or chip with their sandwich. Is it okay to say, “I would like to order a sandwich with fruits”?

    Thanks!

    • Melanie
      Melanie
      November 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi, Carrie!

      It’s better to say,
      “I would like to order a sandwich with fruit.” since it’s just one cup with fruit in it.

      = )

  16. Henry
    December 13, 2013 at 10:31 am (1 year ago)

    Dear Melanie, I have a problem in the following sentence on the usage of singular and plural number of the word ‘Year’. My eleven year/years old daughter talks about many interesting things. In this sentence, which is the most appropriate and grammatical. I’m waiting for your reply and hope you do so. With regards, Henry kamei

    • Melanie
      Melanie
      December 18, 2013 at 3:57 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi, Henry!

      This is a very common question!

      Compare these two sentences:
      1. “My daughter is eleven YEARS old and she talks about many interesting things.”
      In this sentence, ‘years’ is the noun. ‘Eleven’ acts like an adjective, describing the number of years.

      2. “My eleven-YEAR-old daughter talks about many interesting things.”
      In this sentence, ‘eleven-year-old’ is the adjective phrase. It describes the daughter. In this form, ‘year’ is ALWAYS singular.

      = )

  17. Henry
    December 18, 2013 at 10:15 pm (1 year ago)

    Thanks, Melanie!

  18. JacQue
    January 20, 2014 at 10:04 am (11 months ago)

    Hi Teacher Melanie,

    I need help in this text…

    “Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. This food group contains a lot of vitamins. The vitamin C in these foods helps to heal wounds and to keep your skin healthy. ”

    In this text, should I use helps or help?

    Thanks
    JacQue

    • Melanie
      Melanie
      February 26, 2014 at 6:36 pm (10 months ago)

      Hi, Jacque!

      I’m so sorry I didn’t see your comment earlier.

      Use ‘fruits’ instead of ‘fruit':
      “Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These food groups contain a lot of vitamins. The vitamin C in these foods helps to heal wounds and to keep your skin healthy. ”

      “Helps” is correct because it agrees with ‘vitamin C’. You can take out the other words to check that the sentences is correct: “The Vitamin C …. helps to …”

      = )

  19. Wendy
    March 11, 2014 at 4:28 am (9 months ago)

    Hi Melanie. I have problem in using more or much in this sentence.
    Starfruits contain more/much vitamin c than other fruits.

    Please help me.

    Thanks,
    Wendy

    • Melanie
      Melanie
      March 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm (9 months ago)

      Hi, Wendy!

      ‘More’ is correct:
      “Starfruits contain more vitamin c than other fruits.”

      = )

  20. Fer
    March 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm (9 months ago)

    Hi Melanie,

    I have a question, does the words “fruit” and “vegetables” work different? and if so, why?

    Thank you,
    Fer

    • Melanie
      Melanie
      March 24, 2014 at 4:36 pm (9 months ago)

      Hi, Fer,

      I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand your question. Do you mean, “Are the words “fruit” and “vegetable” used in the same way?”

      Fruits & vegetables are both plural nouns, so you use them the same way in a sentence.

      = )

  21. Sophie
    April 5, 2014 at 8:55 pm (9 months ago)

    Hi Melanie!

    I would like to label a bin in my refrigerator for various vegetables and label another for various fruit. Should the label read “fruit” or “fruits”?

    Thank you!

    • Melanie
      Melanie
      April 6, 2014 at 3:09 pm (9 months ago)

      Hi, Sophie!

      You should label is “fruit.”

      = )

      • Sophie
        April 7, 2014 at 4:40 pm (9 months ago)

        Thank you!

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