4

Scrambled eggs don't keep the form of eggs, and yet they are used in the plural. Are they countable? If so, how do you count them? One scrambled eggs and so on?

  • Because they are made from eggs, which are plural. Since they are plural, "one scrambled eggs" does not work. It's just like "mashed potatoes." – sumelic Nov 18 '15 at 4:42
  • @sumelic what happens if you scramble only one egg? – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '15 at 4:48
  • @Mari-LouA: then you get "a scrambled egg" or "an egg scramble." – sumelic Nov 18 '15 at 4:49
  • @sumelic so can I say "I made a scrambled egg on toast"? :) I wonder... the dish is called scrambled eggs regardless of how many eggs it contains. – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '15 at 4:51
  • 1
    It is not at all "strange" to speak of "one scrambled egg". The plural is used at other times simply because when one sees a mass of the substance it's difficult to determine how many ova may have been sacrificed to achieve that mass. – Hot Licks Nov 18 '15 at 7:32
3

The plural is preferred: the google reports 233K results from "scrambled eggs are" and about 61K from "scrambled eggs is." From Wikipedia

Scrambled eggs is a dish made from whites and yolks of eggs ....

From "How to Make Scrambled Eggs":

Scrambled eggs are an easy and popular dish for breakfast.

As an adjunct noun, the same lopsided preference obtains, "scrambled eggs recipe," "over scrambled egg recipe."

I guess it depends on how hungry you are when you're writing about scrambled eggs.

It's one egg, two eggs, no matter how you serve them. From Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table by T. Susan Chang:

At length, I found myself with two egg variations that Noah would eat. Inevitably, they each took a half hour to make (yep, that's thirty times the amount of time it takes to make a scrambled egg).

  • The comparison of "scrambled eggs are" and "scrambled egg is" seems unhelpful because such a construction is more likely about the category as a whole. I think we'd all agree that "fried egg" is no less, and probably more, common than "fried eggs" but "fried eggs are" returns almost twice the results as "fried egg is" – Unrelated Mar 7 '18 at 20:32
1

It doesn't matter that they don't keep the form of eggs. They were "eggs" before they were scrambled, and the term "scrambled eggs" refers to the result of scrambling (multiple) eggs. Grammatical number doesn't have to correspond to the physical form of something: the phrase "a doughnut cut into fourths" is grammatically singular even though it refers to four pieces.

You can't say "one scrambled eggs," just as you can't say "one eggs." You can say "[one/a] scrambled egg" if you started out with one egg, and scrambled it. If you started out with multiple eggs, scrambled them, and want to refer to a single piece of the result, you can say "a serving of scrambled eggs" or "a portion of scrambled eggs."

  • What about an egg omelette? That's often made from two or more eggs. (I'm teasing you!) Could I order "two scrambled eggs"? And how many eggs would be in "two scrambled eggs"? – Mari-Lou A Nov 18 '15 at 5:08
  • @Mari-LouA: OK! To answer seriously, though, we can say an "egg omelette" because "egg" is being used there as a noun adjunct; deadrat's answer talks a little about this also. (Does anyone actually say "egg omelette" though? It seems redundant.) – sumelic Nov 18 '15 at 5:09
  • @Mari-LouA: Normally I think one would say "two eggs, scrambled" if you wanted them separately. And otherwise, you would order by servings rather than by the number of eggs: "two servings of the scrambled eggs" or "two orders of the scrambled eggs." – sumelic Nov 18 '15 at 5:15
  • @sumelic If you order "two eggs, scrambled," do not expect two separate piles to appear on your plate--just twice as much as if you ordered "one egg, scrambled." – Brian Donovan Nov 18 '15 at 6:08
  • @BrianDonovan: you're right. I'm not sure what I was thinking there! – sumelic Nov 18 '15 at 6:31
1

Oxford Online Dictionary defines "scrambled egg" and "scrambled eggs" as a mass noun:

[MASS NOUN] 1 (also scrambled eggs) A dish of eggs prepared by beating them with a little liquid and then cooking and stirring gently.

I don't think it has anything to do with a number of eggs put into a plate/dish of scrambled egg(s). They are just one of many kinds of food that we eat. That's why it could be classified as a mass noun.

Mass noun is:

In linguistics, a mass noun, uncountable noun, or non-count noun is a noun with the syntactic property that any quantity of it is treated as an undifferentiated unit, rather than as something with discrete subsets. Non-count nouns are distinguished from count nouns.

[Wikipedia]

"Egg" is a countable noun. No matter how many eggs you put into scrambled egg(s), it becomes an uncountable noun. You have to use "a plate of" or "a dish of", "two plates of", etc. to count it.

The below Ngram Viewer shows no usage of "a plate/dish of scramble egg" and "a portion of scrambled eggs". "A plate of scrambled eggs" is much more often used than "a dish of scrambled eggs".

enter image description here

Note: There is always a question whether you could use "two scrambled eggs" in place of "two plates of scrambled egg(s). You could use the former, but it might be confusing because it could mean either "two plates of scrambled egg(s)" or "scrambled egg(s) with two eggs". It is clearer to use "two plates of scrambled egg(s) or "scrambled egg(s) with two eggs". Ngram Viewer shows "two scrambled eggs" is broadly used.

  • Did anyone suggest there would be use of "scramble egg"? I found some uses of "scrambled egg" on the Ngram viewer though. In terms of "portion," what I found is no hits for "a portion of scrambled eggs," but some hits for "portion of scrambled eggs." – sumelic Nov 18 '15 at 5:58
  • @sumelic Dictionary suggested there is use of "scramble egg". I meant it is not always "scrambled eggs". Regarding "portion", you can click individual usages and see why. – user140086 Nov 18 '15 at 6:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.