I saw the following sentence in an advertisement:

Not all pasta is the same

After looking it up on google it seems to be the correct way to say, however I would have said:

Not all pasta are the same

For example we say "Not all cats are grey at night"

Pasta is plural in this context, right? Why do we say "is" in this context?

1 Answer 1


In English, 'pasta' is not usually a plural noun, it is a mass noun (or 'uncountable' noun). Arguably, you could refer to different kinds of pasta as "pastas" (although most English speakers would not), but if referring to pasta as one substance it is just "pasta".

The advert you are referring to is not saying that different kinds of pasta are the same - they are clearly not. Farfalle, penne, spaghetti, are all different in shape if nothing else.

The advert is clearly talking about the quality of pasta as a substance, saying that not all brands of pasta are the same, and suggesting that the one being advertised is superior.

Note that this applies to English and may well be different from some Latin languages - the term 'spaghetti', for example, is a Latin plural form (just as 'cacti' is the plural of cactus) and technically one single strand of spaghetti should be known as a 'spaghetto'; however, this is unknown to the majority of native English speakers and we just don't use that term. Additionally, don't take this as a rule for all Latin languages - for example, neither Italian nor French uses 'cacti' as the plural for cactus.

  • Thank you for your answer. You are right the ad was about the substance and not the shape. Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 9:32
  • @PastaArtist you're welcome. Not just the shape - there might be any number of other qualities that are different between kinds of pasta, I'm not really an expert on that. But I imagine that the advert is for a pasta brand that may make different kinds, and everything points to it being used as a mass noun.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 11:09
  • French menus show 'spaghettis', which I don't mind, even though I sneer at Brits who say 'paninis'. Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 14:46
  • @MichaelHarvey a French menu would say "nos Spaghettis", meaning "our spaghettis". Well, that would make sense. "Our spaghetti" would mean all the spaghetti owned by you. It would be like saying "our beer". Just like beer/beers, there are times when mass nouns should be countable.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 19:35
  • That's not what I meant. Not just restaurants, recettes aussi, example Recette Spaghettis bolognaise maison - Ingrédients : 6 Pers. · 400 g de spaghettis · 150 g de viande de boeuf hachée · 800 g de tomates pelées · 2 oignons · 2 gousses d'ail · 2 branches de thym (etc) Commented Sep 16, 2021 at 20:08

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