1

In most cases I see authors write: oak tree, pine tree, palm tree, and etc. But can we just call them an oak, a pine, a palm?

  • The house was standing next to an oak (instead of an oak tree).
  • I was climbing a pine (instead of a pine tree).
9

You can, but many trees bear a fruit or other accessory that is known by the same name: a cherry, an apple, a walnut. Even in your examples, a "palm" is often a palm frond, and a "pine" is a needle of a pine tree.

|improve this answer|||||
  • This is an excellent answer. "I was climbing an oak" is virtually always unambiguous, but many of the other short versions would require context to make sense. – Ben I. May 10 '17 at 20:14
  • 2
    Her house is shaded by an avocado. – John Lawler May 10 '17 at 20:24
  • I would not say an apple to refer to an apple tree, or a walnut to refer to a walnut tree. Sorry, but no. I was climbing an apple sounds really funny. – Lambie May 10 '17 at 23:43
  • 1
    @JohnLawler That must be a really big avocado. – user3169 May 11 '17 at 4:28
  • @JohnLawler Yeh, you are right, this sounds funny. – SovereignSun May 11 '17 at 6:04
2

Question: In most cases I see authors write: oak tree, pine tree, palm tree, and etc. But can we just call them an oak, a pine, a palm?

Response: for some trees yes, you do not need to say tree: A pine, an oak.

For others you do need tree: I was climbing a walnut tree.

If the word for the type of tree refers to the type of wood that characterizes the tree, you don't need the word tree. Mostly you can just use the noun. But not for: fruit-bearing trees. And that includes walnuts.

Because walnut is a type of wood and the fruit of a tree. Also, cherry, there is cherry wood and cherries that grow on trees. So, I was climbing a cherry tree. Not: I was climbing cherries.

If the context is clear, you can say palm for palm tree even though a palm is not a type of wood.

I was climbing the jacaranda or bougainvillea in the yard. [those words are only the type of wood, not a fruit of the tree].

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.