1

I have a pineapple for lunch.

I have pineapple for lunch.

Which version is correct?

What about these examples?

I have soup for dinner.

I have a soup for dinner.

I have apple and chocolate bar for lunch.

I have an apple and a chocolate bar for lunch.

2

I had a pineapple for lunch

I had pineapple for lunch.

These are examples of the difference in English between measuring the number and the amount of various things. A pineapple means one, whole pineapple -- a countable number. Pineapple (without the article) means some amount of pineapple -- a bowl, a cup, a scoop, etc. -- in other words, some uncountable quantity.

So either "a pineapple" or just "pineapple" is fine, depending on what you mean.

Meanwhile, "soup" is uncountable, so you can't have "a soup". Instead you would have instead some amount of soup for lunch -- a bowl, a cup, a liter, etc.

I had soup for lunch

I had a bowl of soup for lunch

Lastly, "apple" is like "pineapple" in that it can be either countable or uncountable.

I had an apple for lunch

If you put apple in your kale smoothie it tastes better.

"Chocolate" is uncountable, so if you want to specify a number you have to use some countable modifier -- "a bar", "a piece", "a cup".

After lunch I shared a bar of chocolate with my coworker.

More on countable and uncountable nouns

  • So it's just fine if I use "I have soup for lunch"? What about these examples: I have a chicken soup for lunch. or I have chicken soup for lunch. – user46036 Mar 5 '17 at 23:44
  • @user46036 based on the information I gave you, which do you think is correct? – Andrew Mar 5 '17 at 23:47
  • "a" is often used when there is a standard serving or the serving is pre-packaged. "I'll have a Coke" refers to whatever is the standard serving of Coke (bottle, can, cup). "A soup" would refer to a standard serving of soup. – fixer1234 Mar 5 '17 at 23:56
  • Let me protest on behalf of a soup. I've often had a soup for lunch. This description indicates that it's a particular soup, whether carrot, mushroom or pineapple (?), as opposed to just soup, which can be any old soup. The waiter might ask: Would you like a soup? – Ronald Sole Mar 5 '17 at 23:58
  • 1
    @fixer1234 Ronald Sole, while I agree that you can say "a soup", I think it's more the exception than the rule. It's not something I personally would say, and I'm not sure it's a good thing to teach English learners who are trying to wrap their brains around the whole quantifiable / unquantifiable thing. But it's not bad to add the caveat that it's something they might hear, even if they might avoid using it until they are more comfortable with the overall grammar. – Andrew Mar 6 '17 at 0:05
1

It depends on whether you're going to shovel in a whole pineapple or not.

I have a pineapple for lunch means you're going to eat a whole pineapple.

I have pineapple for lunch means you're going to eat some pineapple.

  • I have pineapple for lunch: Can it mean also to eat one whole pineapple? What about my other examples? – user46036 Mar 5 '17 at 23:27
  • Yes, it's indeterminate about how much pineapple you eat. – Chris M Mar 5 '17 at 23:29
  • You can't eat a soup because soup isn't quantal and it's had. It's quantity is determined by whatever contains it. Hence you could have a bowl of soup or a cup of soup but you can't have a soup. – Chris M Mar 5 '17 at 23:34
  • A chocolate bar is quantal so you would have to say a chocolate bar or a bar of chocolate. Apple is the same as pineapple, an apple means a whole one, apple means some (an indeterminate amount). – Chris M Mar 5 '17 at 23:38
  • I have an apple and a chocolate bar for lunch could be misread as a bar made of apple and a bar made of chocolate. I have an apple and a bar of chocolate would clarify that the apple was the fruit and not a confectionary. – Chris M Mar 5 '17 at 23:39

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