8

Which version is correct?:

I have ham sandwiches for breakfast.

I have sandwiches with ham for breakfast.

I have sandwiches and ham for breakfast.

Of course, I mean that I eat sandwiches with ham inside them.

5 Answers 5

14

Neither phrase will normally be understood in the meaning you intend.

Until I read your explanation I thought you were talking about a plate of sandwiches and, separately, some ham. I'm not being perverse: as a native English speaker it never occurred to me that you meant the filling in the sandwiches.

The usual phrase is simply "ham sandwiches". I can't think of a simple preposition which is used with this meaning: normally if I wanted to expand it I'd say "sandwiches containing ham" or perhaps "sandwiches made with ham".

It might be that "sandwiches of ham" would work: this is not a familiar expression in my experience, but if I met it I would interpret it that way.

8
  • 11
    "Sandwiches of ham" is perfectly fine for a menu where it might be part of a longer list (Assorted sandwiches of ham, roast beef, salami, turkey, ...) or if directing someone to make a sandwich using ham (With the spread sides facing in, make sandwiches of ham, cheese, and turkey...) but I wouldn't say "I had a sandwich of ham" unless I was joking around and trying to sound pretentious or archaic. I agree I would understand it though.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:18
  • 1
    What about "toast with ham" or "toast and ham" or "ham toast"?
    – user46036
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:25
  • 2
    @user46036: none of those expressions is familiar, perhaps because the dish isn't familiar. I'm not sure whether I would expect to see the ham served on the toast with that description or not. On the other hand "bread and jam" and "toast and marmalade" are quite normal.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:27
  • 2
    Since people have "toast and jam" there's no linguistic reason you can't also have "toast and ham" (to mean toast with ham on top). It's just not something people say.
    – Andrew
    Mar 7, 2017 at 17:42
  • 1
    However, "toast and jam" is not always served with the jam already applied to the toast - it is often provided as a separate item that the diner can apply to their taste. Mar 7, 2017 at 19:30
6

A "ham sandwich" is a sandwich in which the principal filling is ham. This is the most common expression.

"Sandwiches with ham" is ambiguous. It would usually mean "ham sandwiches" but it could mean that you have sandwiches with ham "on the side" -- not typical, but possible. Meanwhile, a "cheese sandwich with ham" definitely means the ham is part of the sandwich.

"Sandwiches and ham" definitely means that the ham is on the side of the sandwiches, and not in the sandwich, as in, "I had cheese sandwiches and ham for lunch." Again, I don't know why you would eat the sandwich this way, but it's your food.

7
  • 9
    Almost: A sandwich containing both cheese and ham is a "ham and cheese sandwich." Your version, "cheese sandwich with ham," remains ambiguous.
    – cobaltduck
    Mar 7, 2017 at 19:04
  • 3
    This is probably a regional thing. You said "sandwiches with ham" usually means the ham is an ingredient, whereas I read it as leaning strongly toward ham on the side. Even more so with "cheese sandwich with ham" since you've kept the cheese on the same side of the conjunction with the sandwich.
    – Tenfour04
    Mar 7, 2017 at 20:45
  • 1
    @Tenfour04 I get it. But what about a "ham sandwich with cheese"? Doesn't that sound like the cheese is in the sandwich? I think it's probably more personal experience, since ham is more often the primary ingredient in a sandwich, and cheese a secondary ingredient.
    – Andrew
    Mar 7, 2017 at 21:10
  • 2
    That's my point when I say I think it's a regional thing. English doesn't always follow logical substitutions, and it varies based on region, for example. To your question, no, to me "ham sandwich with cheese" sounds like the cheese is on the side. Of course, McDonald's describes some of their sandwiches as "with cheese" but the ambiguity isn't there since they don't serve ingredients on the side in any case.
    – Tenfour04
    Mar 7, 2017 at 21:12
  • 1
    "I have sandwiches with ham for breakfast." could be someone describing an insatiable appetite for ham and how they have ham in and with everything. "I have ham steak for dinner. I have eggs and ham for lunch. I have sandwiches with ham for breakfast." It could also be a reference to a breakfast sandwich not complying with religious dietary restrictions.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 8, 2017 at 9:25
1

If your goal is to communicate that you "eat sandwiches with ham inside them" then "I have ham sandwiches for breakfast" is your best choice. Just keep in mind that a ham sandwich implies that ham is the dominant element of the sandwich and not some minor untraceable component.

Both "I have sandwiches with ham for breakfast" and "I have sandwiches and ham for breakfast" could mean that the ham itself is unrelated to the sandwiches. For example, you're having some nondescript sandwiches with ham on the side.

Depending on the context, "I have sandwiches with ham for breakfast" could mean that you're emphasizing the ham aspect of the sandwich. But in that case it would usually be written "I have sandwiches with ham for breakfast".

0

From my experience, your first choice is correct, as "ham" in this case is functioning as a modifier for "sandwiches." Your second choice would indicate that you mainly ate sandwiches but you also ate ham to a lesser extent (think of the classic "Would you like some sprinkles with your ice cream?" example.) Your third choice would indicate that you ate both ham and sandwiches.

To be perfectly correct, as "ham" is not an adjective, you could, as mentioned above, use "sandwiches containing ham", "sandwiches of ham", or, to be unnecessarily verbose, "sandwiches consisting partly of ham."

Hope I helped!

0

Basically out of your choices "ham sandwich" and "sandwich with ham" are also possible, however, the latter is ambiguous as @Andrew stated in his answer. "Ham sandwich" would mean that there's ham inside your sandwich and would the best option.

2

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .