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Its very confusing which is correct:

grape flavor or grapes flavor

We had a debate in our office regarding the collective noun - Grapes

As per user3169 [in ELL]: "You should use grapes though, since there is no pronoun. In any case it is usually considered plural, since if you picture the fruit it probably won't be one grape. "My favorite flavor is grape." would be OK." - in My favorite fruit is grape/grapes by ELL user John Arvin.

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  • Which part in user3169's comment does not satisfy you? And what reasons did your colleagues provide for favoring "grape flavor" or "grapes flavor"?
    – AIQ
    Oct 2, 2019 at 7:08
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    @erycee Some great answers here but the most important thing is... no native speaker ever says grapes flavour.
    – chrips
    Oct 2, 2019 at 17:53

2 Answers 2

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Grape is a noun, and flavour is a noun. When you put two nouns together to make a compound noun grape flavour, only the head word (normally the last noun) is ever pluralised. With grape flavour, I cannot think of any situation where flavour would not be the head word. So, grapes flavour is never used. grape flavours could be used, and this would describe a number of different flavours associated with grapes, for example:

There are many different chemicals that are used for synthetic grape flavours

Regardless of whether you are talking about one grape, many grapes or the general concept of grapes, grape in grape flavour is always singular.

I like grape flavour bubble gum
In this wine, the grape flavour is very strong

For more information about situations where the head word is not the last, see this article about compound nouns.


Note that grapes is not a collective noun: it is a simple plural of grape. A collective noun is a singular word used to describe a group of things, for example team, population, flock (of sheep), shoal (of fish). This article gives more information about collective nouns.

Note also that flavor is the US spelling, and flavour is the UK spelling.

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  • "When you put two nouns together to make a compound noun [...], only the head word (normally the last noun) is ever pluralised" - I think "ever" is a bit too strong. The processing of insurance claims is usually called claims processing and the trading of stock options is usually called options trading. (Phrases like those have a business-ese feeling to them, in my opinion.) Oct 2, 2019 at 17:53
  • I will say that of all the purportedly grape-flavored candies, sodas, and other sweets I've had, none of them tastes even remotely like actual grapes. Oct 2, 2019 at 17:54
  • Good explanation but would agree with @TannerSwett that "ever" should probably be "usually". Few more examples — sports car; games room; savings account Oct 2, 2019 at 19:34
  • @JavaLatte "I like grape flavour bubble gum" Isn't "grape flavour" here describing "bubble gum"? Then shouldn't it be written in the adjective form - "grape-flavoured"?
    – AIQ
    Oct 2, 2019 at 19:56
  • @TannerSwett; in the examples that you quoted, I would argue that claims and options are the head words. the following gerunds merely describe what you do with the head word.
    – JavaLatte
    Oct 5, 2019 at 8:28
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Depends a bit on context. Although English very often uses the aposthrope construction for possessives it can be helpful to work through the long-form and then contract it (if you can) once you are settled on the rest of the sentence.

If you are talking about "the flavour of the grapes" (as in the flavour of some specific grapes) you can contract it to "the grapes' flavour - it is a possessive for a word endning is 's'

As you note, a single grape would be different: "the flavor of the grape" => "the grape's flavor" (rarer, but for example "the grape's flavour on his lips reminded him of their summer in Spain" with "on his lips" reinforcing the idea that a single grape is being savoured mindfully rather than munching through a whole bunch vaguely bought back the recollection)

Please stop here but...

If we are talking about the flavour generically (as a food technologist might) then "the flavour of grape" => "grape flavour" (at which point it is all getting rather messy with divergence likely between the US and the UK and between 'civilian' and food industry usages). Aaagh! It's getting rather ugly.

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  • How about grape-flavored iced tea? Note that OP does not give a context. Its hard to say what OP wants.
    – AIQ
    Oct 2, 2019 at 8:32
  • Agreed - I started trying to unpick grape flavoured etc. I think there is a bit of a US/UK differnce in that I would expect to hear grape flavour in the US and grape flavoured more in the UK. But I lost the will to live and feared I would do the same to others. Oct 2, 2019 at 14:29
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    @Duke-Bouvier I feel very strongly that for the purposes of ESL, no ordinary situation would ever demand one to use "grapes flavour".
    – chrips
    Oct 2, 2019 at 17:54

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