# I'm having a hard time figuring out “Categorical Noun”

I like fruit

Here, fruit refes to a category called fruit. that's why we use singular form:fruit.

I like oranges and apples.

oranges and apples refer to two kinds of fruit.

I have oranges and apples. I mean I have two fruits.

Here, we can use plural form of fruit because it refers to kinds of fruit not a category.

I eat a piece of fruit every morning.

Here, piece refers to ,not kind or category, but one component. it could be an apple or a orange.

I eat an apple every morning.

I think it is right.

I eat a piece of an apple.

We would not say like this because we usually use "piece" when we refer to a component of a category not kind. it implies that we split an apple, then I eat one of them

What I understand so far is that

A category consist of kinds and each kind consists of components.

when we refer to a category using fruit, we have to use singular form.

but we can use plural form when we refer to kinds with a categorical noun "fruit"

Am I right to think this way?.

• Kind = category. Grammatically, it is not hierarchical as you suggest it is: `A category consists of kinds`. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 3 '15 at 13:02
• Though I think this is a good idea (and I agree that when fruit is a type of fruit, it's countable), you need to be more careful. It's not as tree-like or categorical as you might think. (This is the same point as TRomano pointed out.) For example, the category "animal(s)" includes cats, dogs, birds; the category "beverage(s)" includes milk, beer, tea; the category "furniture" includes tables, chairs, sofas, the category "food" includes buns, naans, waffles. -- In this way, fruit is similar to food. – Damkerng T. Aug 3 '15 at 22:39
• "a piece of an apple" doesn't sound right, but "a piece of apple" is fine. "it implies that we split an apple, then I eat one of them" - if by "them" you mean "one of the pieces" then that is correct, except it isn't implying it so much at it is stating it clearly. – nnnnnn Jun 3 '16 at 3:35
• The sentence "I eat a piece of an apple." is grammatically sound. It carries the idea that from an apple, you acquired a slice and ate it. "I eat a piece of apple." (without "an") simply says that you ate something of the type "apple". – Lawrence Sep 1 '16 at 15:34

Almost. In truth the plural of a category noun can mean either multiple "types" or multiple "items" - and "fruit" is a particularly bad example (I'll explain why in a bit). Let's use "candy" for now.

This is perfectly understandable:

I have lollipops and licorice. I mean I have two candies.

But it's a bit ambiguous - this works too:

I have two lollipops. I mean I have two candies.

The ambiguity is consistent - this could have either meaning:

I eat two candies every morning.

But we can be specific just fine:

I eat two pieces of candy every morning.

I eat two kinds of candy every morning.

And now for "fruit".

The problem with "fruit" is that it has a botanical count noun meaning the scientific part of a plant called the fruit:

This tree produced two fruits this year.

Because of this, "two fruits" in "I have two fruits" tends very strongly to mean "two pieces of fruit" - but unnatural because you are talking about edible fruit (a category noun), not plant fruits (a count noun). "Two fruits" would need additional context to mean "kinds of fruit":

When making jam, mixing two fruits is especially delicious.

Really, it's probably best to be specific whether you mean "pieces" or "kinds" when you're talking about "fruit". For other category nouns, context would be how to determine which is meant - but there's no hard rule here. Unfortunately it's just going to take practice to figure out which is more appropriate.

"two candies"
"two fruits"

• Using candies doesn't make things any easier, at least not in American English. If we have a lollipop and a piece of licorice, we would not say we had "two candies". Nor would we say "two pieces of candy" in that particular case, since they're so different. I don't know what I would say in that case. Perhaps "I have two kinds of candy". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 3 '15 at 13:00
• @TRomano I'd argue that, while uncommon, "candies" is fine in some usages, even in the US. In fact, it's relatively common for candy brands to use "Candies" in their brand names. – Catija Aug 3 '15 at 18:17
• @Catija: I'm not saying the word is uncommon, only that it's not any simpler than "fruits", though for different reasons. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 3 '15 at 20:25

There is no problem here. The bald heading "fish" immediately conjures up the idea that many fish are going to be considered. Few people would use the word fishes.It is the same with fruit, deer and sheep. The plural can be the same as the singular.

• Well said. What about salmon? What you say is true of everyday usage. That was my point. – Lambie Nov 23 '19 at 16:20

fruit changes meaning in the singular and plural:

In everyday usage, we eat fruit:

We eat a piece of fruit (the whole thing)

We eat two pieces of fruit (two whole things)

We eat a slice (or slices) of some fruit

or We eat a piece of an apple or pear (part of one single fruit) etc.

Never in this sense do we eat: fruits with an s.

So, what fruit did you have today? [singular or plural meaning], I had an apple. I had a banana and an apple.

What fruit is the vendor selling today? [plural meaning]

She's selling guavas, bananas and pineapples.

Fruits with an s is reserved for scientific writing or metaphors: the fruits of my labor.

full definition of fruit in the dictionary

• "My mom makes great pie. She mixes several fruits together and her crust tastes fantastic."....."I am considering ordering the fruit salad. Can you tell me what fruits it has?" – Adam Sep 6 '19 at 14:04
• I would say: She mixes several types of fruit together. Never fruits, not here. Can you tell me what fruit is in the fruit salad? Never fruits there either. – Lambie Sep 6 '19 at 14:08
• Yes. Somehow avoiding “what fruits” in the question seems obligatory. Reword the sentence. Otherwise it sounds as if the request is to identify the specific pieces of fruit that were included in a single serving of the salad. Better: “Which types of fruit are in the salad?” – auto_increment Nov 23 '19 at 13:36
• @Adam In everyday language: she mixes several types of fruit together. People just do not use fruits with an s in everyday speech. – Lambie Nov 23 '19 at 16:21