I’ve always had trouble with noncountable nouns.
I understand that cake, bread, food can be either noncountable and noncountable depending on the context.

I’m writing about different professions and what they do in general.

  1. I’m a chef. I cook food.
  2. I’m a baker. I bake bread and cake

These noncountable nouns - food, bread, cake are supposed to be treated as ‘countable nouns’ in this particular context?

Should I change it to 1. “I cook foods.” 2. “I bake breads and cakes.”

  • 'Bread' is a substance and 'loaves' are the discrete items made of bread. 'Cake' is the substance and the discrete item is 'cakes'. So as a substance 'cake' is uncountable but as the discrete item 'cakes' it is countable. It is a matter of concept, here, I would say.
    – Nigel J
    May 11, 2018 at 11:19
  • 1
    @nigel J Had you been confident enough to make an answer instead of a comment I would have voted you up May 11, 2018 at 12:49
  • You really cannot do "cake" without covering "The people have no bread." "--Let them eat cake. " Apocryphal, wrongly attributed, whatever, it's part of the English language.
    – Xanne
    May 11, 2018 at 18:21
  • You cannot radically change the nature of your question. It is unfair to those users who answered the original question. The downvote is not mine but while I was writing I saw the score drop.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 12, 2018 at 14:41
  • Please ask a new question, but show some research this time, adding a link to a dictionary entry is usually sufficient. Good luck!
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 12, 2018 at 14:47

2 Answers 2


Both "food" and "bread" only become countable when referring to types thereof. It is very unusual to see "foods" or "breads" without some numeric reference, such as:

There are lots of different foods for sale at the market

I've only learnt how to bake a few different breads

"cake" doesn't behave the same way. Uncountable "cake" is the foodstuff, countable "cakes" are individual whole cakes, in the way that countable loafs are individual whole things of bread. In general people eat "cake" (the foodstuff) but bake "cakes" (individual whole ones). I don't have a good explanation why I'm afraid, it's just more idiomatic.

Your most idiomatic phrasing would therefore be:

“I’m a chef. I cook food.”

“I’m a baker. I bake bread and cakes”

  • 1
    Just like foods, there are various types of "breads" as well as of "cakes."
    – Kris
    May 11, 2018 at 10:16
  • Please add a source to support your answer.
    – JJJ
    May 12, 2018 at 14:34

Food (ODOL), bread and cake can be mass nouns or countable nouns depending on context. Bread and cake in "I bake bread and cake" are classes (mass nouns, non-countable). In "I bake breads and cakes", they are items of food (countable). cf. "Let them eat cake." (not "a cake").

"You are eating food in a restaurant …"
"… her passion for cooking spicy foods"