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Assuming there is no material in ice cream to be chewed, which is the correct sentence?

I am drinking ice cream.

I am eating ice cream.

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Ice cream is a frozen dessert that is eaten. Drinks that contain ice cream are usually a float or milkshake. You would drink a float or milkshake, but eat ice cream. –  aedia λ Jul 14 '11 at 21:47
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For all you New Englanders out there, @aedia is referring to a frappe. –  Callithumpian Jul 14 '11 at 23:11
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You eat ice cream. But if you wait long enough, you drink it :-) –  Lukas Cenovsky Jul 15 '11 at 7:33
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This isn't really a question about English. We all know what ice-cream is and the difference between eating and drinking. But still, someone has favourited it. –  z7sg Ѫ Jul 16 '11 at 15:58
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4 Answers

up vote 30 down vote accepted

You are eating ice cream. You also eat soup, applesauce, yogurt, and many other things. The "food" category is not defined by chewability.

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+1. Food is eaten, drinks are drunk. This is true even when eating soup and drinking a milkshake; the food is more liquid than the drink, but the verbs still agree. –  KeithS Jul 15 '11 at 0:04
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@KeithS: You can drink soup just fine. (At least, you could where I grew up.) –  MrHen Jul 15 '11 at 4:43
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you drink soup out of a mug, you eat soup out of a bowl with a spoon. –  jk. Jul 15 '11 at 6:04
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@jk: You can drink soup of out a bowl by, well, drinking it. As in, no spoon; just the bowl. –  MrHen Jul 15 '11 at 15:14
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Ice cream is typically eaten. If you melted the ice cream, you could probably drink it. Similar foods get differing treatment and the pattern usually comes down utensils:

  • You drink through a straw (slurpies, shakes)
  • You eat with a spoon (ice cream, pudding, soup)
  • You drink from a bowl by tipping it to your mouth (soup, broth)
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@phenry: I'm not sure I understand your point? That people more often eat soup with a spoon than drink it from a bowl? –  MrHen Jul 14 '11 at 21:55
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I think humans eat from a bowl; if they drink, then the bowl is called a cup. –  Henry Jul 14 '11 at 22:24
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@Henry: People drink from bowls all the time. And they do not suddenly call the bowl a cup. Just because you don't do it doesn't mean others don't. –  MrHen Jul 14 '11 at 23:37
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if you are picking up the bowl to your lips then yes that's drinking, if you are using a spoon then that is eating –  jk. Jul 15 '11 at 6:06
    
@Henry: I think MrHen's third choice is a type mismatch, it doesn't really belong. Whether it's a bowl, plate or shallow in a tin rooftop, if you use a spoon you're eating, but by straw or straight with your lips, you're drinking. So one can then infer that if you tip up a bowl to your lips directly, you're drinking the soup (since one usually doesn't do that in primarily-English-speaking societies, it's most likely that one eats soup from a bowl since they'll most likely be using a spoon. An thick milkshake in a tall glass? Using a spoon, I would be eating it. –  Mitch Jul 15 '11 at 18:01
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Ice cream is eaten as it is in solid state. You can not drink ice, can you?

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I can drink ice cream but not ice cube. :-) –  xport Jul 14 '11 at 21:59
    
@xport Well, when one says ice cream, it is usually meant to be in solid state, otherwise it is melted ice cream. You can drink it after you melt it in your mouth, granted, but you can hardly do so quickly with a big amount of it. (I am using laic terms as you are most probably interested in the usage of language rather than the phyics.) –  Harold Cavendish Jul 14 '11 at 22:09
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The more interesting question is the difference between soft-serve ice cream and a milkshake. –  Random832 Jul 14 '11 at 22:26
    
@Random832: re my comment to MrHen's answer...my analsysis falls apart with the soft-serve ice cream (I know that it is eaten but the logic I stated says it is drunk. How do I fix the analysis?) –  Mitch Jul 15 '11 at 18:04
    
Ice cream is part solid, part liquid, and part gas. The sugar stops it fully freezing, unless you make it very cold, and there's often also a significant amount of air. –  bdsl Aug 11 '11 at 19:28
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"Eat" would be the right word unless you want to specifically emphasize that it's melting before you have a chance to consume it (e.g., "Between the heat and my 2 year-old acting out, I ended up drinking my ice cream.")

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