do you like fruits ?

Guest   Sun May 06, 2007 3:17 pm GMT
Our members serve a really good breakfast every Sunday morning consisting of Fried or scrambled eggs, pancakes, or waffles with a variety of fresh fruits and coffee.
furrykef   Sun May 06, 2007 4:18 pm GMT
When referring to fruit in general, the only possibility is "fruit": it's a mass noun. "Fruits" must refer to varieties of fruits, an idea that is often expressed by the phrase "kinds of fruit" anyway, though "kinds of fruits" would also be acceptable and I don't think one is more correct than the other, but I think an average person would more likely say "kinds of fruit".

But I agree with Jim: introducing this distinction at this phase will probably just confuse your students, and the more important thing is to get them to understand the idea of a mass noun.

- Kef
Guest   Sun May 06, 2007 6:00 pm GMT
To Kef
Is this sentence correct grammatically?
Out of fruits, which fruit do you like the most?
furrykef   Sun May 06, 2007 7:30 pm GMT
It's grammatically correct, although it sounds a little unusual. More typical would be "What kind of fruit do you like the most?" or "What's your favorite kind of fruit?".

The more I think about the proper usage of "fruits", though, the less certain I am. "It's important to eat your fruits and vegetables" sounds a lot better than "It's important to eat fruits", which in turn sounds better than "I like fruits".

I think the phrase "fruits and vegetables" is something of a special case. It's a common phrase that has somewhat fossilized, so people tend to say it even when "fruit and vegetables" might make more sense.

The sentence "It's important to eat fruits" is interesting... I don't think this is a clear case of either correct or incorrect, although it doesn't sound entirely natural. It should probably be reworded, but it's not a major problem.

I'm still pretty sure that "I like fruits" doesn't really work, though. It's just not how people say it. I've yet to figure out why this doesn't sound OK and "It's important to eat fruits" does, though.

In any case, my advice (for foreign and native speakers alike) would be not to worry about it too much and just stick with "fruit" unless you're speaking of "a variety of fruits" or "fruits and vegetables". You probably can't go wrong that way, and you wouldn't be losing any potential flexibility in the language. :)

- Kef
Uriel   Sun May 06, 2007 10:12 pm GMT
We had this discussion with "fish" versus "fishes" as well -- there are times when you are talking about finned swimming things as a whole and use "fish" as a plural mass noun, and times when you are comparing specific types of fish and say "fishes". Same goes for bread -- do you like bread? I love bread -- all kinds of bread. The bakery down the street makes all sorts of different artisan breads. If you're talking about the general concept, use the singular. When you're getting more specific about different types of it, you switch to the plural. Thus, "I like fruit" or "the fruit of my labor" or "different kinds of fruit" are correct, but so are "fruits and vegetables" or "two different fruits".
Glikeria   Mon May 07, 2007 4:57 am GMT
Yeah, talking about fish. Which is correct:
1. There are fewer fish in our rivers now than 20 years ago.
2. There is less fish in our rivers now than 20 years ago.
furrykef   Mon May 07, 2007 5:44 am GMT
Both are "fewer fish" and "less fish" are fine in colloquial speech, but some people reject "less fish" and it will probably annoy an English teacher. :)

Here's a page that I found from a quick google that explains the difference, and similar differences:

The page that comes from,, looks like a pretty handy reference for "errors" that native English speakers often make, so I bookmarked it. But, since they are indeed common, most people don't really care about all those rules. ;) But they're good to know if you want to write professionally...

- Kef
furrykef   Mon May 07, 2007 5:47 am GMT
The message board converted that second URL to a link incorrectly (there shouldn't be a comma at the end). Here it is again:

Oh, by the way, most people DO care about the spelling errors that the pages discuss. It's the grammar errors that they don't necessarily care about.
Glikeria   Tue May 08, 2007 4:43 am GMT
<...fine in colloquial speech>
And for a grammar test?
furrykef   Tue May 08, 2007 6:03 am GMT
On a grammar test, definitely go with "fewer fish" and avoid "less fish".
Glikeria   Wed May 09, 2007 4:43 am GMT
Thank you, Kef.
furrykef   Wed May 09, 2007 6:35 am GMT
You're welcome, any time. :)
Tina   Wed May 09, 2007 2:27 pm GMT
Thanks to all of you.
Thank you Kef and Uriel.
Antimooner   Thu May 10, 2007 12:05 am GMT
First of all I'd like to thank you all...
Thanks Tina
Thanks Glikeria
Thanks furry
and thanks to everyone else!
Franco   Thu May 10, 2007 3:13 am GMT
There ARE less fish