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Is there any food, other than 'toast' (i.e. slices of bread browned by fire, electric heat, etc.) that, even when it is in domestic-sized, countable amounts is nevertheless treated as an uncountable, mass noun.

This question arises from the discussion here Why is “toast” uncountable?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Robusto, tchrist, choster, Edwin Ashworth, Hot Licks Nov 14 '15 at 2:44

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    You obviously don't know, or are choosing to ignore, the different usages. Wikipedia discusses the reality/grammatical treatment conflict that does occur in some cases. '[With] mass nouns such as "water" or "furniture", only singular verb forms are used: the constituent matter is 'grammatically nondiscrete' (although it may [water] or may not [furniture] be etically nondiscrete). 'Pea', 'egg' etc have both count (one pea, six peas) and mass (Less egg in the cake next time, please) usages. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 13 '15 at 13:25
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    @Dan: I suppose if toast "ONLY exists in countable form" I wouldn't be able to order some toast? But wait, I can! – Robusto Nov 13 '15 at 13:36
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    Which is why we use a counter for that. Like we use a counter for bread: "slice of bread." – Robusto Nov 13 '15 at 13:42
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    How unusual is "toast"? Apparently it's about 10% of the questions of late. – Hot Licks Nov 13 '15 at 14:09
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    A convert! Welcome to my world. Together we shall start ordering two butter and marmite toasts in British cafés across the land. Anyway, I thought Americans did order two or three toasts at diners, according to @Hot licks they do. – Mari-Lou A Nov 13 '15 at 14:10
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Fruit. Corn (U.S.) Maize (U.K.) You have to say "a piece of fruit", "an ear of corn", or "an ear of maize".

  • Both of these are commonly treated as a mass nouns at mealtimes aren't they - Would you like some fruit/corn?. – Dan Nov 13 '15 at 13:51
  • Would you like some toast? You'll have to come up with a better objection to my answer. – Peter Shor Nov 13 '15 at 13:54
  • Yes, but that's the point of the question! The toast on your plate is clearly and unambiguously countable AND it does not have a physical form that is uncountable, and yet you say 'some' toast rather than 'a' toast' or 'two toasts'. – Dan Nov 13 '15 at 14:00
  • You can cut up fruit, and you get an uncountable form, even though fruit naturally comes in countable units. So you're looking for a food that you cannot cut up that's uncountable. (When you cut up toast, it becomes croutons or bread crumbs.) That's hard. Name another food that becomes something else when cut up. – Peter Shor Nov 13 '15 at 14:16
  • Not quite... The OP is about usage. 'Fruit' exists as both a mass noun - when I want fruit in a shop or cafe I'll ask if they have some/any fruit - and also as a countable noun. 'Toast' only exists as a mass noun even though it has no 'mass' form and is, actually, countable. – Dan Nov 13 '15 at 14:21
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I would say Jello perhaps? Though almost always preportioned it's extremely uncommon to hear someone order "a Jello". My recollection is that nearly everyone orders "some jello", even when it's portioned out in full view.

  • I'm thinking mainly of usage. For practical purposes, even when made at home jello is portioned, and thus easily countable. The contrast is provided by jello shots; "a jello shot" is common when describing a container of jello with alcohol in it, whereas "some jello" would likely be used to describe the same container with no alcohol in it. – Misneac Nov 13 '15 at 13:48

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