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There is a basket of oranges kept in the middle of the room. A child comes in and kicks it. I want to describe the action but want to use the generic "fruit(s)" in the sentence. It does not seem to fit in properly though.

Sample Sentence : Groaning, the child kicked the basket of _______ away from her.

The options I can think of are -

  1. Groaning, the child kicked the basket of the fruit away from her.

  • This seems to imply there is only one orange inside the basket.
  1. Groaning, the child kicked the basket of fruits away from her.

  • This seems to imply more than one fruit - apples, bananas, etc.
  1. Groaning, the child kicked the basket of fruit away from her.

  • This, to me, seems to be the best option but feels a bit ungrammatical when I say it out loud, and can also imply that there is only a single fruit in the basket.

I have tried searching with each phrase but am getting reasonable responses for each so am not sure how exactly to find the correct answer.

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  • Basket of fruit is probly the most colloquial phrase, unless you wanted to say fruit basket. Feb 25, 2021 at 21:04
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    The law that the basket of fruit holds only one piece of fruit or one kind of fruit has long since been abolished in the States. Trust your reader to figure that one out. Feb 25, 2021 at 21:16
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    Since fruit is a mass noun, most readers would assume that a basket of fruit contains more than one piece of fruit. Feb 25, 2021 at 21:21
  • I read "basket of fruit" to imply more than one piece of fruit. (A basket with a single piece of fruit in it seems atypical, so to evoke that in your reader you'd need some qualification about the number of pieces of fruit, whereas without qualification multiple pieces of fruit are assumed.) Also since one needs "pieces of" in order to count "fruit", which as @PeterShor mentions is a mass noun, "the basket of fruits" may be grammatical but "fruits" typically refers to a product of something (e.g. fruits of one's labor), not more than one item of fruit.
    – cpit
    Feb 25, 2021 at 21:45

2 Answers 2

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The word "fruit" is a noun. It's an exception where the noun is both countable and uncountable. So the plural of fruit can be either fruit OR fruits.

  • When we think of "fruit" as a group collectively and in a non-specific way, then we tend to use the word "fruit" (without the "s").

For example, "I like fruit." (uncountable, meaning fruit in general).

  • If you are emphasizing the different kinds of fruit, then you can use "fruits".

For example, "Apples, orange, mangoes!! There are so many fruits to choose from!"

So, out of all three options, the phrase "basket of fruit" seems to suit your example the best since it is the same as saying, "oranges are a fruit". Hence, "basket of oranges" implies "basket of fruit". Another way of saying it could be, "the basket has fruit in it" (here, "fruit" refers to oranges in general).

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There are several answers to this question that address the countability of "fruit" specifically. The longest answer provides examples that cover, with almost excessive thoroughness, differences among possible uses of "fruit" and "fruits". (Note, however, that many of the examples are older and/or more formal texts, so they may not be entirely useful for purposes of this question.) But your question seems to be less about fruit and its countability and instead about the grammaticality, or perhaps the senses and referents, of the options you give.

All three options are grammatical, strictly speaking. However, their meanings differ slightly. If you're referring to a situation in which a child kicks a basket containing some oranges, the correct option of the three is the last one,

Groaning, the child kicked the basket of fruit away from her.

This last option is the only one that would refer to a basket containing pieces of fruit, all of which were oranges, and in which the focus of the sentence is the kicking of the basket as an expression of whatever the child is groaning about.

The other options do something slightly different. The second would refer to a basket containing more than one kind of fruit, as in this answer to the question I mention above. In reference to your comment on the second option, to indicate a basket containing only one orange you'd need to specify it with something like "the basket containing the piece of fruit". Your second option would be useful if your focus isn't the child's action but rather the basket or its contents—for example if you were trying to distinguish it from another basket containing something different or draw attention to the fact there was only a single orange in the basket.

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  • I'd say that the question is a duplicate. These should be close-voted rather than answered again. Mar 10, 2021 at 14:48
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    @EdwinAshworth but this question only appears to be about the countability of fruit. It seems to actually be about the different senses of using determinants or not, esp as regards assorted fruits being grouped in baskets
    – cpit
    Mar 10, 2021 at 18:02
  • If we take this question at face value, it doesn't belong on ELU at all. A native-speaking child of eleven would be expected to know which option is idiomatic. Mar 10, 2021 at 18:55

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