So recently I've learned that the word "fruit" is typically a mass noun, which is quite embarrassing to be honest, as I'll probably have to explain some related grammar to my students. The course outline I'm going to be using features these "grammatical structures":

  • What is the most delicious fruit?
  • The most delicious fruit is plum.

Is the answer correct? Should it be something like this:

  • The most delicious fruit is plums.?

Or is "plum" used in an uncountable sense here, i.e. is it referred to as foodstuff (substance) rather than as an item (single object), in the same way "apple" is used in "There's apple in this sauce"? Is the apparent use of "plum" in the singular without "a/an" in that example grammatically correct?

1 Answer 1


Plum is countable, so you can say

The most delicious fruit is plums


The most delicious fruit is a plum

But, that's not a good writing, I guess, because according to the end-weight principle, the longer(or heavier) constituent should come later in a sentence. So I think it's better to use plum as the subject, not as the predicative complement.

Plums are the most delicious fruit.

EDIT : Don't forget the information-flow principle. You can end your sentence with a shorter constituent if it appears like this.

I know the most delicious fruit. The most delicious fruit is plums.

  • +1 "Plums are the most delicious fruit." Exactly what I was thinking! This sounds so much better, and yet the educational company (which isn't run by native speakers fyi) insists on such an odd way of phrasing. Not that I can argue with them anyway cuz I don't have concrete and intuitive proof of my own. But anyway, could you please spell it out for me? Is the phrase "the most delicious fruit is plum" grammatically correct? Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 6:25
  • Plum is countable in this context. It would be uncountable in something like plum jam or plum tree.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 6:28
  • @Vun-HughVaw I'm not even a native speaker, but I prefer to self-learn most things because I don't trust my own government. And.. no. It should be a plum. Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 6:30
  • Plums are not the only fruit.
    – James K
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 6:33
  • 1
    @JavaLatte "Plum" in "plum jam" or "plum tree" is actually used in the attributive, which means the question about its countability is not relevant in those cases. Even plural-only nouns have attributive forms ("pajama party" as opposed to "pajamas") Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 6:35

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