3

Now, if you study dictionaries, you see that an animal or poultry is a countable noun when you refer to a living thing. For Example,

fish [countable] a creature that lives in water, breathes through gills, and uses fins and a tail for swimming

They caught several fish.

but an animal or poultry is an uncountable noun when you refer to its flesh as food

fish [uncountable] the flesh of fish eaten as food

I like frozen/smoked/fresh fish

However, we don't have this pair "count - uncount noun" for all animals in English because English people don't eat these kinds of animal. But people in other countries do.

For example,

mouse(n): a small animal that is covered in fur and has a long thin tail. Mice live in fields, in people’s houses or where food is stored.

a field mouse

We have no "mouse" as an uncountable noun that refers to its flesh as food.

So, Can we invent English words based on similar usage?

We can invent a new word "mouse" as an uncountable noun that refers to its flesh as food.

Eg, which one is correct?

can you eat a mouse? (this sounds like you eat it raw???)

can you eat mouse?

I don't want to mean we eat it raw. I mean we can cook it before eating it (ie, we see it as a kind of food like fish or chicken).

Note: I noticed that people often put "meat" before these not-considered-for-eating animals. For example, "dog meat", "cat meat".....

DO you think that it is safer to put "meat" before these not-considered-for-eating animals?

Extra question:

I am not sure if it is wrong to say:

"I eat 2 chickens & 3 fish" since chicken or fish is considered as an uncountable noun when we see it as a kind of food.

  • It is incorrect to say that "English people don't eat these kinds of animal" (and not only because of the grammatical error in the sentence.) Rats and other rodents (like rabbits) are eaten by English-speaking people in various communities all over the world. – P. E. Dant Jun 29 '17 at 3:41
  • The rule isn't based on popularity of consumption, it's based on how the word is used. If you want to refer generically to eating mice, it would be proper to say "can you eat mouse?", regardless of how many people typically do it. That's just the correct grammatical approach. The grammar rule also isn't affected by how gross eating of the specific animal might seem, or the method of preparation (like mouse tartare). BTW, my understanding is that "field chicken" is applied to more than just frogs. – fixer1234 Jun 29 '17 at 7:18
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Your logic is valid, works, and would be understood by the reader or listener.

You're not really inventing a new word. You're simply using a noun to talk about a type, and the article is not needed when you talk about a type of something or something in the abstract, in contrast to a specific instance of something.

English just happens to have a few words that tend to be used to express the ready-to-eat meat versus the animal they come from, such as beef, pork, mutton, veal. So those words are used when you are talking about eating them.

Other animals don't have a special word and simply use the same name as the animal, such as lamb or fish.

And there is definitely not one for mouse, so the way you are approaching this is the way you are supposed to.

  • Extra question: I am not sure if it is wrong to say: "I eat 2 chickens & 3 fish" since chicken or fish is considered as an uncountable noun when we see it as a kind of food. – Tom Jun 29 '17 at 2:39
  • @Tom "3 fish" in your sentence would be taken to mean that you ate first one fish, then a second and a third. – P. E. Dant Jun 29 '17 at 2:46
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    There once was a Puffin, shaped like a muffin and he lived on an island in the deep blue sea. He ate little fishes which he thought most delicious. He ate them for breakfast and he ate them for tea... I did say certain circumstances... ;) – Peter Jun 29 '17 at 4:14
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    @Peter The poetic license has no expiration, and I'm sure you only made your comment for the halibut. Nevertheless, the OP should understand that the plural of fish is fish, and that the scientific usage is the sole exception. – P. E. Dant Jun 29 '17 at 4:46
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    @P.E.Dant, Note: I noticed that people often put "meat" before these not-considered-for-eating animals. For example, "dog meat", "cat meat"..... DO you think that it is safer to put "*meat" before these not-considered-for-eating animals?* – Tom Jun 29 '17 at 7:56

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