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When stating a general fact/preference on countable nouns, singular or plural is more suitable and natural?

Example 1 :

I like apple.

or

I like apples.

Example 2:

I like eating apple.

or

I like eating apples.

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"I like apples", means you like eating apples generally.

and

"I like the apple" means you are focused on one particular apple and you like this apple. Maybe you just like its shape and color.

However,

"I like eating the apple" means you are currently in the process of eating a particular apple and you like eating namely this particular apple or, which is most unlikely and funny you eat a particular apple from time to time (you like eating this apple)

As you can see articles are important here, you missed them in a couple of places of your questions, in: I like apple. and I like eating apple.

In some cases it's context that determines countability, not the word itself. You can meet tricky examples with apple like these:

"I like eating many fruits, but my favorite of all is the apple." (In that sentence, I'm not talking about any particular apple, but the genus of apple as a whole)

"There's too much apple in this fruit salad"

In some case a word can be both countable and uncountable, like when it can mean category or subject as in the next example:

"I bought a basket full of fruit." (perhaps one kind of fruit, perhaps not)

"I bought a basket full of fruits." (various kinds of fruit)

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The plural of countable nouns is more common: "I like ____-s."

"I like Apples." "I like eggplants." "I like dogs."

But the other commenter is incorrect saying that you missed the articles! You can say "I like apple" if you are talking about the flavor

"Do you like pie?" "I like apple (pie)." You like pies that are apple flavored, but maybe not pumpkin.

As stated above you can say "I like the ___."

"I like the apple" there is an apple, a banana, and a pear and you like the way the apple looks or tastes compared to the other things "I like the apples." same as the other sample, but now there is more than one apple that you are comparing

I hope this helps people who find this post!!

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    See also the answer here. It's not just apple flavor; it's also apple-stuff, the material or 'meat' that make up the countable things called 'apples'.
    – lly
    Jun 15, 2018 at 21:07
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In a similar question posted on EL&U, this was my answer to the question

So is it correct that I say "I like apple" instead of "I like apples"?

[slightly adapted]

Yes, you can say “I like apple” if you are talking about the fruit pulp, its texture or its taste; i.e. when it is uncountable. The same is true for any fruit. And when we talk about dishes, in this case dessert, it is singular …

even when it's clear that more than one piece of fruit was included, the star ingredient of the dish is singular; e.g., cherry pie, strawberry ice cream, and apple cider. In grammar this is referred to as a noun adjunct, when a noun modifies another noun.

But normally when we use the word apple, we think of it as something that is countable, which we can pick up and bite into.

When someone says “I like apples” they are talking about the actual fruit itself and not just its flavour. The statement is not usually referring to a single apple variety but to many different ones. And this is why the phrase I like apples will always be far more common than I like apple.

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As Christine said, when you are talking about a countable noun, you say "I like ..." followed by the plural.

Apple is a countable noun. You can have two or three or ten apples. So the correct version is "I like apples."

The same is true for other countable nouns. "I like oranges." "I like walnuts." And using "like" in a different sense, "I like books", "I like short girls", etc.

For non-countable nouns, there is no plural so you simply use the basic word. For example liquids are not countable, so "I like wine". Chocolate is not normally used as a countable noun but is a description of a flavor, so "I like chocolate."

But that brings up an issue. Sometimes a word can be used in both a countable sense and a non-countable. Like "chocolate" can mean the flavor in general, so you'd say "I like chocolate." Or it can mean a piece of candy made with chocolate, as in "I bought a box of chocolates." If you wanted to say you like that sort of candy, you could say, "I like chocolates."

Similarly, "coconut" is the fruit of a certain tree. If you want to say that you like this fruit, you would say, "I like coconuts." But usually, in America anyway, when we think of coconut we think of the flavor of the white part of the fruit, or of the powdery shavings, neither of which is countable. So someone would be more likely to say, "I like coconut."

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