Here is the sentence: Some people like them with beef or chicken, some with seafood, others like pineapple on their pizzas. Why we don't use an article before /pineapple/?

closed as unclear what you're asking by RegDwigнt Oct 22 '15 at 9:10

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  • Because you rarely use an entire pineapple on your pizza, but rather use bits of chopped pineapple. So it a mass noun. – Hot Licks Oct 22 '15 at 8:23
  • There is no article before pineapple for the exact same reason there is no article before chicken. Why do you object to the one but not the other? Please clarify by editing your question. – RegDwigнt Oct 22 '15 at 9:10

Because using an article changes the meaning to nonsensical things:

Others like a pineapple on their pizzas.

This says that some people like an entire pineapple on their pizzas.

Others like the pineapple on their pizzas.

This says that some people like a particular pineapple (perhaps the one on that shelf) on their pizzas.

Without the article, the sentence means that some people like a certain amount of pineapple on their pizzas, which is grammatical and sensible, if not in the gustatory sense.

  • 1
    Or of all the ingredients on their pizza they like the pineapple in particular. – Jim Oct 22 '15 at 8:00
  • Still conjures up the image of a pineapple on a pizza for me. No accounting for taste. – deadrat Oct 22 '15 at 8:02
  • 1
    What! You've never ordered a pizza pie with a live chicken on top? You don't know what you're missing. Pick up the phone and order one! It's all they eat in the Chile. – Ricky Oct 22 '15 at 8:20
  • Chicken pizza? I can't even get any groat clusters delivered in my sector. They never come up into the hills. – deadrat Oct 22 '15 at 11:34

Many nouns for food (food is also a mass noun) are a mass noun which is uncountable. The reason we classify them as uncountable is that we are not able to count them piece by piece and actually we can convey our meaning without using the articles.

"Others like pineapple on their pizza (pizza is also a mass noun)" could be changed to "Others like slices/pieces of pineapple on their pizza", but people don't use "slices/pieces of" because it can still make sense without them.

Mass noun is defined in Oxford Online Dictionary as:

A noun denoting something which cannot be counted (e.g. a substance or quality), in English usually a noun which lacks a plural in ordinary usage and is not used with the indefinite article, e.g. china, happiness. Contrasted with count noun.

Some mass nouns can be used as countable nouns based on the following definition:

A noun denoting something which normally cannot be counted but which may be countable when it refers to different units or types, e.g. coffee (drank some coffee, ordered two coffees).

Pineapple can be used in a plural form:

I would like to buy 2 pineapples.

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