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or‧ange 1 /ˈɒrəndʒ $ ˈɔː-, ˈɑː-/ ●●● S1 W2 noun

1 Image of orange[countable] a round fruit that has a thick orange skin and is divided into parts inside

Peel the oranges and divide them into segments.

orange juice

orange peel

orange groves (=areas of orange trees)


A little child can only eat some segments of an orange. An orange or 2 oranges are way too much for him.

So, if I say "he is eating oranges or some oranges" then that is not right.

But if I say "he is eating orange or some orange" then it breaks the rule which says "countable nouns can not stand alone in its singular form without articles" (source)

can we say "he is eating orange or some orange" when we mean "he is eating some segments of an orange"?

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I think the complexity comes because how you use the term can be varied and I believe there is opportunity to use "orange" as both a count and non-count word - at least informally.

My son was hungry so I gave him some orange as a snack.

Here, you've given him an unknown amount of orange. The implication is that you've left out "of my" or "of an". This is informal but will be understood and I've said it myself as a native speaker.

Similarly, a messy eater might need to be cleaned up:

I need to wipe you off, you have some orange on your face.

Here, the elided word is "juice" or "pulp" but the sentence is sensible in informal English.

In the US, at least, it's common to give children wedges of orange that are unpeeled - so they can shove the whole thing in their mouth and make silly faces. In such a case, you could certainly say:

He was eating some orange wedges.

You ask whether you can be specific about segments - you can. If it's important that the amount is clear, you may be as specific as you like.

  • He happily ate half of an orange but didn't want the rest.
  • She would only eat three orange segments for snack today.
  • She ate some of her orange but gave the rest to her brother.

And this isn't only for oranges, by the way.

  • I gave my son some banana in his lunch today.
  • There's some carrot in the salad, is that OK?

English is a pretty flexible language and, to be honest, we get a bit lazy about being specific about what "some" is describing. In the sentences above I could have more correctly said:

  • I gave my son some slices of banana in his lunch today.
  • There's some shredded carrot in the salad, is that OK?

But... if the preparation of the food doesn't really matter or you're talking to someone who can see the preparation, it's acceptable to (informally) omit the words. So, use it with caution but know that it's not perfectly impossible to use the construction you're trying to use!

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  • Personally, I would not use some with orange (the fruit) like that. Some cheese, yes. And I would never suggest that to anyone,even informally.
    – Lambie
    May 5 '20 at 20:23
  • @Lambie That's... sort of the wonder of the English language... different people can have very different ideas of what's usable or correct. I think it's actually a pretty awesome feature as a native speaker but I can totally understand it may be particularly confusing for a learner. :)
    – Catija
    May 5 '20 at 20:25
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    Generally speaking, even native speakers would not say it. As for slices of banana, if you cut them up, they go brown, so poor kid. I am not a believer in encouraging odd forms for learners. She ate some of the orange, on the other hand, is fine. Also, I see no complexity in the question at all.
    – Lambie
    May 5 '20 at 20:30
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This is one of these problems that don't actually occur. You never stand next to a person eating food and describe what they are doing to them!

It is hard for me to think of a realistic context! Suppose, for some reason, you wanted to say what the child ate, with great detail.

She ate three orange segments.

But this is kind of weird.

She ate half an orange.

Most often we don't care if it a whole orange or not

She's eating her orange (it's only three segments, but those three are hers)

It is fine to convert "orange" to a non-count and you might do this in a question

Do you want some orange?

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  • My brain was filled up with grammar rules, so it is hard when you want to make sense of what you are saying
    – Tom
    Apr 5 '20 at 1:42
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    Just remember, it's about communication, not grammar.
    – James K
    Apr 5 '20 at 1:46
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  • He was eating an orange. [noun]
  • Yesterday, they were eating oranges in the afternoon, not apples. [plural noun required]
  • She was eating orange marmalade. [adjective]

orange juice, orange peel, orange is an adjective there.

PS: You can of course say: I was eating some oranges. But it is slightly odd since usually one eats oranges by the count: I ate two oranges just now. I ate an orange just now.

Question: can we say "he is eating orange or some orange" when we mean "he is eating some segments of an orange"?

No, we simply do use those. He is eating oranges these days, not bananas. Orange is countable.

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