34

This is ‘English’ toast

enter image description here

And this is some posh toast

enter image description here

Pain Quotidien offers rye, walnut and sourdough toast at £2.95 for two slices, while Gail’s bakery chain, which opened its first café in 2005 and now has 15 branches and stocks Waitrose, charges £2.50 for two slices of toast.
The Telegraph

And this is Italian toast. It's really a toast sandwich but Italians call it a tost. Italians rarely eat slices of toast with butter or jam, and if you ask a waiter or the person serving behind the counter for some "toast", that's what you'll get.
Further evidence here.

enter image description here

Toast: culatello cotto, crema di fontina valdostana. (Toast: culatello cooked ham, Fontina cream cheese.) Certamente non un toast qualunque. (Definitely not ‘an’ everyday toast)

Now the word toast is uncountable (aka mass noun), which means we don't use the indefinite article ‘a’ or add the suffix -s . But if we look at the first image, although it is clearly "one toast" that phrase is considered ungrammatical. Instead in English we say and write: “one piece of toast” or “a slice of toast”. The second image shows "two toasts", but we say “two pieces (or slices) of toast”.

Oxford Dictionaries provide this example:

My breakfast is always the same: two pieces of brown toast with slices of banana on top, a cup of tea and an apple juice.

Note that although apple juice is generally considered uncountable, in this instance it's not. That's because we think of an apple juice being contained in a glass, cup, box or carton; and containers are countable. However, if we were to spill the apple juice on the surface of a table, we might say: “Oh! I've spilt some apple juice” And finally, we call the food toast, and not ‘two toasted/browned pieces of bread’.

My question is very simple.

  • Why is toast uncountable?

Bonus: The song Toast sung (spoken) by the British pop band, Streetband, in 1978.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – waiwai933 Nov 14 '15 at 5:47
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    There is no Why. Why is information a count noun in Italian? Why is news a count noun in Italian? Different strokes for different folks.. – NES Dec 18 '15 at 7:49
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    @NES I'll explain the reason behind the question. If I sit at a table and order "one bread" what will I receive, apart from someone asking me to repeat my request, what will I receive? I could very well get an entire loaf of bread. But I don't want an entire loaf, I want "a piece" of that bread or "some" pieces of that bread. If I ask: "Can I have some bread" that request is clear. Now what is the reasoning behind toast being uncountable? Look at the pictures, and tell me you cannot "count" them. I'm curious as to why/how this mass noun still persists today. – Mari-Lou A Dec 18 '15 at 7:59
  • @NES I ask for "a particular" information/news/advice and the person gives me this information/news/advice. In Italian it's countable, (una notizia, un'informazione, un consiglio) I can see why Italian speakers agree with this grammar. It's not without any logic. (P.S The two language do not fully concur on all foodstuff and beverages, but they come pretty close) – Mari-Lou A Dec 18 '15 at 8:12
29

The word toast in the sense of "toasted bread" is an English coinage from the early 15th century and originally referred to bread that was added to wine or ale for flavour (and possibly to soak up the dregs). In that context, a mass noun made more sense than a countable one, since toast didn't come in slices. It was only in the 17th century that toast started being eaten on its own with a spread.

The word toast in other languages meanwhile (such as Italian) is a modern borrowing, and so is more likely to be countable.


Update: a bit more investigation shows that the situation is more complicated than I suggested above. Early examples in fact sometimes use toast as a countable noun, despite referring to a piece of dipped toast: for example "Go fetch me a quart of sack, put a toast in it" from The Merry Wives of Windsor (1602). I'm not sure when it became exclusively uncountable.

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    I would be interested in exploring this more to use in class. Is there a link you could provide? – michael_timofeev Nov 12 '15 at 11:05
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    I agree with Dan on that point. This answer explains the historical reasons (and there's a reason why I tagged the question etymology) but what about today? Can I echo Michael's request for the source of 17th century date? Thank you! – Mari-Lou A Nov 12 '15 at 12:27
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    @Dan You're expecting English to behave consistently. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 12 '15 at 12:39
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    @EdwinAshworth - In my mind I'm only looking for patterns - without prejudice or expectation! I do enjoy the surprises. – Dan Nov 12 '15 at 13:12
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    @Dan: you're probably right (see my update above). It may be interesting to compare the collection of Italian plurals that entered English as singular nouns: what for example distinguishes the ones such as zucchini (and in some dialects panini) that became countable nouns from the majority, such as pepperoni, salami, spaghetti, macaroni, etc that became uncountable ones? – Uri Zarfaty Nov 12 '15 at 14:12
18

Its uncountable for the same reason bread is uncountable. You commonly get bread (or toasted bread) in slices for convenience of eating, and its the slice that matters there as a quantifiable item. If you want to refer to the unsliced bread, then you still have to quantify it in some way - either as loaves or as weight.

So "a toast" (when referring to bread) is meaningless. A slice of toast makes sense as you can tell how much you're referring to.

Sometimes though, you get shortened versions of what is meant - "an apple juice" is shortened form of "a portion of" or "a glass of" apple juice. For some reason we don't use toast in the same way (though note, sometimes we do say "one tea" meaning "one standard container full of tea" (ie a mug, cup or pot).

It works for many other items - eg concrete ("A slab of" or "a tonne of" is good, "a concrete", not so).

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    "...For some reason we don't use toast in the same way..." That's the point of the OP! – Dan Nov 12 '15 at 15:12
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    I agree. I think the distinction is whether the item in question "naturally" comes as one unit, or if you have to take a portion of a larger uncountable mass of it when using it. No one says, "Do you want a bread?", "do you want a rice?", "do you want a jelly?". There may be an exception for beverages, perhaps because the sense of one unit is so strongly reinforced by the cup and that we often pay by the cup/glass: a coffee", "a martini", "a hot chocolate"...as if the whole cup+liquid system is one unit. This is possibly why we say "an ice cream" if it is in a cone/cup portion. – Chelonian Nov 12 '15 at 18:11
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    @Dan The majority of language is not planned. You're not likely to find concrete reasons for every, or even most, aspects of a word's evolution. – Matthew Read Nov 12 '15 at 19:29
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    @Chelonian - toast comes naturally as a unit. In fact I can't imagine toast (except perhaps as toasted crumbs) other than as easily countable slices/pieces/bits of ... – Dan Nov 12 '15 at 21:15
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    But toast is not a piece of loaf, that would suggest that you tore a chunk out it. Toast is made from sliced bread, and it's clearly a unit. Look at the images. We ask "How much bread?" The question: "How much toast do you want?" is tricky to answer: Do you say "some", "not much", "just a bit". If toast were really uncountable that question would be the norm, instead people will ask: "How many slices/pieces (of toast) would you like?" that question is much more clear. So why not ask "How many toasts?". I know I'm being deliberately stubborn, but I need convincing! – Mari-Lou A Nov 13 '15 at 0:00
10

Original 2015 post

I think your definition of toast is equivalent to toast sandwich. When I put jam or cheese onto toast I don't call the whole thing toast, just the part that was originally bread. In fact I call it jam and toast or cheese on toast. To me, your pictures show slices of toast with things on them, except for the Italian toast which is a sandwich made with toast instead of bread.

I think of toast as the material making up the slice (or even chunk) of bread. If you call any piece of toast a toast what happens when you cut it in half? Do you have two toasts or two half toasts? If you cut an apple in half you quite definitely have two half apples. If you cut bread you don't increase its number, you just make pieces (and a mess). The same goes for apple juice. If you divide it in any way, you still describe each division as apple juice because it is made of apple juice. Uncountable nouns are only counted in measures. The measure of apple juice might be millilitres, the measure of bread might be pieces and the measure of toast might be slices.

2018 EDIT

I don't think anyone would say a slice of a toast, which indicates that toast is being used uncountably. In informal language, you can have a water, a beer, etc. Informal language allows using uncountable nouns countably. In formal language, one must say a glass of water, a bottle of beer, etc. Likewise, in formal language you can't have a toast, only a slice of toast, etc.

So the answer is: toast is uncountable in formal language and it is acceptable to use it countably in informal language.

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    I like this too. The problem now is that the OED (see comment below OP) has toast only as countable! – Dan Nov 12 '15 at 13:01
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    @Dan Yes, you're right. The OED should correct us! We're obviously all using English incorrectly! – CJ Dennis Nov 12 '15 at 13:05
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    @CJDennis - No, I should correct myself - the OED has two toasts (see comment above). The common, uncountable modern usage, began relatively recently and the 'why' of it remains for us to speculate. – Dan Nov 12 '15 at 13:15
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    @Dan That sounds better. Even with a publication as esteemed as the OED if it started saying that the way I, and every other native speaker I know, use English was wrong I'd say that they need to do more data gathering. – CJ Dennis Nov 12 '15 at 13:19
  • This also does not really answer the question, but then again I don't think there's an answer other than that's the way we use the noun (and it could change, as the usage of the word 'toast' has over the years). In other words, your explaining that toast is a substance is only a restatement that toast is a mass noun. I certainly don't think of toast as a substance, but as a slice of toasted bread. Else I would never ask 'what do you want on your toast?' – Alan Carmack Dec 12 '16 at 14:24
6

My question is very simple.

Why is toast uncountable?

I'm actually not sure it is simple, or rather if it is simple then it admits a very simple answer:

Toast is uncountable, because in English the word "toast" refers to the substance of which the objects depicted consist, but it does not denote the objects themselves.

Except that occasionally it would be used to denote the objects. For example, of those pictures of English menu items, one might perhaps say "four toasts for table seven!", and it would mean either four single-slices or four two-slice servings according to which one is actually on the menu. Naturally one wouldn't do this if it was ambiguous in a particular establishment: it's jargon). In those uses it is countable in English, but it's a fairly standard formation for almost any mass noun that's sold (or handled at home) in specific quantities: "serving(s) of X -> X(s)". So probably not very interesting.

Now, there's a less simple question:

Why is it that, in English, we have a single word for the substance of those objects, but we most commonly don't use a single word for the objects and instead refer to them as "slices of toast" or "pieces of toast"?

To which I don't know the answer, but if you're not asking that less simple thing, then I think a lot of the other answers here are going further than you need! One could speculate (and I don't know if this is correct or not, the early examples in OED suggest that it's irrelevant) that it's because etymologically, "toast" is some kind of contraction of "toasted bread". But it would still be necessary somehow to explain why the mass noun currently is for the most part resisting being used for the object. In general it is no small task to explain why a particular apparently-logical usage has failed to become common.

  • Good answer! It is the 'less simple' question that intrigues me ...english.stackexchange.com/q/286897/103961 – Dan Nov 16 '15 at 10:12
  • Toast does refer to the objects themselves, or else we would never ask what do you want on your toast? – Alan Carmack Dec 12 '16 at 14:30
  • @AlanCarmack: Still, if I'm making two slices of toast, I say "what do you want on your toast", not "what do you want on your toasts", and so it seems to me I'm using toast as a mass noun. You're right that the word toast nevertheless does in some sense "refer" to the objects, in much the same way that the word "water" can "refer" to a swimming pool. It just doesn't do whatever the thing that count nouns do to objects beyond merely referring to them, and that I've used the word "denote" for in my answer :-) – Steve Jessop Jan 10 '17 at 11:36
6

In my opinion the premise is simply wrong. It may be less common, it may be not posh, but it exists. A brief web search gave a few hits:

Some (but not all) of the examples may be considered shorthand for "types of toast", but I'd not consider that a counter argument at all, actually.

Many "uncountable" words are in all reality very well countable and occur in plural form. True, the plural may actually mean different kinds of the substance as in "unlike many other rubbers which can often become brittle...". But if we talk about a substance, i.e a type of matter, then different types of that (doughs, rubbers, concretes) are the proper plural! That we could substitute "rubbers" with "types of rubber" is notwithstanding (rubber describes a type of matter, after all). We could also substitute "noses" with "different examples for nose". A baby will think nose is a concept like hunger and doesn't have a plural, until it detects more of them when it learns to recognize faces. A Texan may think there is only one snow until he talks to an eskimo1.

The fuzziness of our natural languages blurs the lines between types of an uncountable substance and several items made of that substance. We may agree that bread is generally uncountable, but if you just indicate your general wish to buy bread, a baker may ask "which one of our breads?", pointing to a shelf full of bread variations. Each loaf stands for a variety, but the question could be answered by pointing to a specific loaf and saying "this one" (instead of "the sourdough without seeds"). Similar scenarios are conceivable for water in a restaurant offering several brands of mineral water.

At other times concrete things are named after the substance of which they consist. This happens with iron or stone. Or cake. Or bread: "The bakery offers a nice selection of breads and pastries.". Or toast, as far as I am concerned. The individual item consisting of toast is "a toast", and there may even be two of them, as in the picture.


1I know. But it is such a nice example.

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    It has always been the case that "uncountable" nouns may be pluralized when discussing multiple types of the item -- I don't think there's any disagreement with that point. (In particular, as a co-op student at Wright-Patterson AFB in the late 60s I did testing on different types of "rubbers" used for vibration damping in aircraft. (And, yes, there was usually a snicker from the peanut gallery when "rubbers" was mentioned.)) – Hot Licks Nov 13 '15 at 19:04
  • I like the finds of toast as a count noun. (I was also salivating at roasted onion soup with goats cheese toasts. Again this is using toast as a count noun. – Alan Carmack Dec 12 '16 at 14:40
4

Many bread products are treated as uncountable. In my experience, naan, matzo, and pita are often uncountable, even though they all come in countable units. Consider this Ngram, showing that the mass nouns some naan/matzo/pita are much more common than the plurals some naans/matzos/pitas.

This may explain why toast continues to be considered uncountable, even though it comes in countable units.

Why did toast start being uncountable, even though the original use of toast—as pieces of toasted bread intended to be put in wine or other drinks—was countable? I have a theory which is probably unprovable. Originally, toast was considered as the raw material for making toasts, which was done by cutting up a slice of toast and putting the pieces in wine. Thus, slices of dry toast were uncountable, but when you cut it into immersible-size pieces, they became countable. When people started putting butter and jam on slices of dry toast and eating them, they stayed uncountable.

  • Seems at least possible. Nice answer. – Dan Nov 16 '15 at 10:33
  • Unfortunately, that ngram is based on very little data. You can tell by the numerous horizontal sections. Interestingly, my family always pronounced "matzos" as "matzah", leading me to believe that the "s" was silent and not indicating a plural, although there are many online sources that say the plural of "matzo" is "matzos" or "matzot". – CJ Dennis May 30 '18 at 1:45
1

My breakfast includes 'a few slices of toasted bread'.

Unsurprisingly, most of the time people make an ellipsis of this mouthful (!) and ask for 'toast' (a slice or piece of bread browned at the fire (OED)). If I want to specify how much toast I want I say how many pieces/slices.

Even though there is little chance of any confusion as to 'what' food I want toasted (because, unusually for a cooking process, toasting refers to bread, almost exclusively (pace marshmallow lovers)), it is extremely uncommon, even today, to say, "2 toasts please" (with the sense of 'two slices of toast'). This is, perhaps, because the outcome of the widely used ellipsis - toast - is, actually, the process which made it and usually it does not sound right to pluralise processes.

Of course, there is a common context for hearing 'two toasts'. This is when making an order in a cafe/restaurant. But in this case 'toast' is an ellipsis of 'orders of toast'.

  • Hmm, except that toast is the verb. – Dan Nov 12 '15 at 11:39
  • well then grilled – Mari-Lou A Nov 12 '15 at 11:42
  • ?grilled? toast. Comprehensible but strange usage. I use the grill to toast my bread. Or I put the bread under/in the grill. – Dan Nov 12 '15 at 11:47
  • Unless you're happy to toast your sausages...? – Dan Nov 12 '15 at 11:49
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    I have to agree that it is an ellipsis of "toasted bread", that usage dating back at least as far as the 1600's. I have to say, "two toasts" would not be understood in a restaurant near me. "Two toasts" would more likely be taken to mean "two orders of toast". Oxford Dict [link]oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/toast[/… online has a good explanation of how bread toast and alcohol toasts are related. It is uncountable just as bread is uncountable, because it is bread, and can come in many forms. Fun question! – Corvus B Nov 13 '15 at 20:54
1

The oldest recipe book in English history is The Forme of Cury written in 1390. The word cury is the Middle English term for cookery. Written (or compiled) by the master chefs of King Richard II there is one recipe called tostee, whereby toasted bread is sweetened with a spiced honey and wine sauce.

enter image description here

original text

Take wyne and hony and found it togyder and skym it clene. and seeþ it long, do þerto powdour of gyngur. peper and salt, tost brede and lay the sew þerto. kerue pecys of gyngur and flour it þerwith and messe it forth.

Translation

Take wine and honey and mix it together and skim it clean. And seethe (boil) it for a long time, and add to it powdered ginger, pepper and salt. Toast bread and lay it thereto. Carve pieces of ginger, and flour it therewith, and serve it forth.

In the Middle English Dictionary (1996) by Robert E. Lewis, the plural form tostyes is noted.

enter image description here

The author of the 1425 excerpt was the French physician and surgeon, Guy de Chauliac, whose book Chirurgia Magna was translated from Latin into several different languages, including Middle English.

The dish remained popular in English cuisine for centuries, and even William Shakespeare referred to it in his play The Merry Wives of Windsor, first published in 1602

Go, fetch me a quart of Sacke [sherry], put a tost in't.

Therefore tost was a countable noun in the English language for over two hundred years, and as other users have pointed out, the OED lists toast as being countable. Why and when toast became a mass noun; however, remains unclear.

Sources: British Library and Middle English Dictionary

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    The only justification for a downvote I could find was the (erroneous) 1616 date associated with the TMWOW. In my defence I found that date on Wikipedia and it is the same date cited by PhraseFinder – Mari-Lou A May 30 '16 at 10:23
  • Yes, and as certain comments, and the answer by @PeterASchneider shows, the word toast is today "used as a count noun" (which is more accurate than saying "is a count noun" and this applies to any noun). What makes a count noun contable is that you can count distinct units of them. This was the original sense of toast, per OED and is used by some speakers, perhaps a growing number of speakers today. So, in the end there is no why, only because (that's the way it's used). – Alan Carmack Dec 12 '16 at 15:05
-1

Because the trail of comments under the question was effectively long, they have been transferred to chat where (probably) no one will ever read or see them again. So in order of appearance, I'll cite the comments which I believe were the most thought-provoking. Apologies to any whose comment/s are not included.


Comments

Behind the witty and nerdy comment lies a more serious observation: because toast is made from bread, which is a mass noun, it is therefore a piece of that solid mass form. For the benefit of future visitors, a link to the law of conservation of mass.

  1. Because of the law of conservation of mass nouns, which states that no matter how much energy you apply to a mass noun, you can't change it into a countable noun, only into another mass noun. Thus bread is a mass noun, and if you apply heat to it you convert it into toast, which by the law, remains a mass noun.
    deadrat (ca.60 upvotes)

  1. Bread is bread, no matter how you slice it. The energy applied to the knife in slicing a loaf of bread won't change the bread into a countable noun.
    • deadrat

Yet, there are instances when a mass noun can be either ‘countable’ or ‘uncountable’ depending on the context and its meaning.

  1. Grain has both countable and noncountable uses. The former because there are different types of grain: "This field is planted in a grain; that one, in a legume." But although we have been given pictures of different types of toast, it's still a mass noun only. @Mari-LouA, can you add a picture of French toast?
    •deadrat

An American user who sustains that nowadays it is common to hear toast used in its countable form

  1. Hate to break it to you, but it's not at all uncommon to hear "two toasts" in the US. And sometimes that's even while having breakfast.
    Hot Licks

I'm not quite sure what skymnigen's point was, perhaps someone could shed some light.

  1. If toast was countable, what would we be counting? The slices of toast or the loafs of toast?
    •skymningen

The comment which immediately follows; however, illustrates how it is possible to ‘count’ toast in a native-like manner. I found this comment to be very natural-sounding.

  1. All I know is that after the 3rd or 4th toast I lose count.
    • Hot licks

Another user pointing out that mass/uncountable nouns such as meat can be ‘counted’, especially when one is ordering from a restaurant menu. Although the user is arguing that meat shouldn't be reclassified as being countable, the example does show how native speakers will adapt language to fit their needs.

  1. If I'm in a restaurant with my family and ordering Sunday lunch, I'm likely to say "That will be 2 beefs, 2 lambs and 1 pork please". But that doesn't mean that "beef", "lamb" and "pork" should be reclassified as countable nouns.
    Bill Johnstone

A user who sustains that the term toast is just the clipped form for “toasted bread”

  1. I mean, isn't "toasted bread " as uncountable as "bread" is? A toast is just short for "a sandwich prepared with toasted bread" in the same way as "a water" can be short for "a bottle of water".
    Josh61

A bubbly comment that reminds us toast is both a noun (a toast to Alice!) and a verb, (let's toast to world peace) meaning to raise a glass of champagne (or any appropriate drink) in honour of something or to one or more people. In this case, toast is certainly countable. In Italian it is called brindisi, which happens to be the name of an important coastal town in the south of Italy.

  1. A toast to this question! And I call for more toasts so that we can count them!
    CJ Dennis

Sometimes there is no explanation, it's just the way things are...

  1. You know, sometimes the answer (especially in this forum) is "It is what it is." There is no "logic" to many things in English. It is largely the result of Brownian motion and, were the clock somehow wound back and it done all over again, many things would be completely different.
    • Daniel R Hicks (Hot Licks)

  2. The history of how 'toast' is uncountable is followable (there are instances mentioned here where it is not, but most instances (in the expected meaning) are uncountable. 'Why' may be difficult to substantiate other than an explanation by analogy with other uncountable situations. It does seem weird since you'd think that pieces of toast should be called 'toast' plain and simple. Why it is not is I think just 'because'.
    Mitch

Edwin Ashcroft argues the need for a more thorough investigation as to why toast is considered uncountable

  1. Bill Johnstone Classifying nouns which exhibit both types of behaviour as either 'countable or 'mass/uncountable' is poor analysis. Its usages that are count or otherwise (or sometimes apparently halfway between: a gentle light suffused the scene / two gentle lights ...). // OED apparently labels toast 'countable'; I'd prefer separate entries (or at least 'noncount and count') under the same headword. Some dictionaries show this level of sophistication.
    Edwin Ashworth

At this point, someone recites The (Holy) Oxford English Dictionary

  1. […] 1838 Dickens Let. 1 Feb. (1965) I. 366 ‘We have had for breakfast, toasts, cakes, ...’ 1978 Vishveshvaranand Indological Jrnl. 16 218 ‘He had stopped taking cereals ... but ...had to re-start on medical advice taking two toasts or some cornflakes.’ The OED has two 'toasts'. The first (older) is 'put in wine, water, or other beverage' and is countable. This usage is rare or obsolete except in India. The uncountable usage is first recorded (OED) around 1735 - Swift Panegyrick on D— in Wks. II. 294 ‘Sweeten your Tea, and watch your Toast’. Also 1885 J. Ruskin Præterita I. iii. 84 ‘Quarrelling with her which should have the brownest bits of toast.
    Dan

  2. EdwinAshworth - OED gives two 'toasts' - the older, countable, used with drinks and now with strongly regional usage, and the more recent (1735), uncountable, current usage.
    • Dan

Another citation from the OED which supports that toast is a mass noun.

  1. I wasn't implying otherwise Edwin; the point I was making was that we use the terms countable or uncountable for their predominant use, so I would not expect the "beef" in "Can I have 2 beefs and 1 pork please?" to be listed as a countable noun. If a noun can freely be used both ways, then dictionaries will cite both, though with some nouns consistency is patchy. For example, the basic Cambridge Online Dictionary gives "toast" (the food) only as uncountable, whereas the Oxford gives it as uncountable, except for "stilton and pear toasts" which it correctly says is countable.
    • Bill Johnstone

A user from Europe who points out that toast is countable in French. The same is true in Italian.

  1. You may find the following interesting : TLFi with the reference to the Bath, Sommerset anecdote, and DmF for the tostee. In Fr this is countable (that I know of), will even take the mark of the plural (toasts), but should always be pronounced like the singular (toast/toste). It's all quite interesting. Thanks!
    Amphiteóth

A veteran EL&U memeber who argues the grammar supporting the non-countability of toast does not reflect modern usage, and provides evidence to support his claim.

  1. I don't usually have many disagreements with Downing and Locke (English Grammar: A University Course' [2006]) but I think their 'Note that toast meaning 'toasted bread' is always non-count and requires 'a piece [etc] of' in order to refer to an individuated piece' is outdated (though reflected on many grammar sites and in several dictionaries). I'd say that countification (of the bread sense) (and according to Uri's update, that should be recountification) is progressing increasingly quickly today.
    • Edwin Ashworth

  2. I'd add to the previous comment that the other common type of countification process, to the 'varieties of' ('arabica and robusta coffees are the two most commonly used'; contrast 'two coffees to go, please'), is clearly in use: {laweekly.com} '10 Best Classic French Toasts in Los Angeles'. This article also contains the noncount usage, and, arguably, the slice-count usage.

Responding to my comment that posited pancakes were countable even though the substance, batter, was uncountable. (Remember deadrat's first comment)

  1. Mari-Lou A: Counting pancakes: You can count pancakes because the batter has been quantized. This is elementary quantum mechanics.
    ab2
  • Feel free to correct any embarrassing typos (none I can see of) but only if you are the author of the citation. This answer is comunitty wiki, I get no upvotes nor downvotes, but if you feel the comments are interesting, and useful, please do upvote. Ta very much! – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '15 at 13:37
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    This is not an answer and "Community wiki" does not mean "This wouldn't be acceptable as an answer but it's OK to post it this way so I don't get rep for it." – David Richerby Nov 14 '15 at 18:40
  • @DavidRicherby You know, I think these comments are actually helpful, and provide essential background information. A few of the links are very on-topic, and could have easily been posted as answers. I think the downvoters have misinterpreted the objective behind this, admittedly, unorthodox way of using the community wiki. But you see, the reason why this is a CW answer, is NOT because I don't think it is an answer, but because of the word community. It is a joint effort. And why shouldn't other users contribute, improve, or edit their own comments? – Mari-Lou A Nov 15 '15 at 6:35
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    If you want to rework the comments into an answer, using those helpful links and so on, then go ahead! But this is not that answer: it's just a collection of comments. Yes, it's a joint, community effort, but it's a joint, community effort to produce something that isn't an answer. Many of these comments could not have been posted as answers (such as deadrat''s, which I agree is hilarious and which I upvoted when it was a comment). – David Richerby Nov 15 '15 at 10:09
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    Regarding restaurant-related usage, I'd suggest that uncountables are treated as countable because they refer to serves of food, which is what the restaurant (or cafe, etc) deals in. This should not be used as evidence that toast is countable because they treat every menu item as countable (five pastas, 3 waters, 2 wines, 6 toasts, etc). Your (@Mari-LouA's) recent post is interesting, though. – Lawrence May 29 '16 at 8:50

protected by Mari-Lou A Feb 19 '17 at 11:31

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