One Point English Lesson: Using Plural Nouns When Speaking “Generally”

Michael Happy English! 12 Comments

I like dogs better than cats

Listen to the lesson as you read:

Ok, so here is an important point that will help you sound more natural when you use English.

As you know nouns in English can be countable, like pen → pens, or banana → bananas, and non-countable, like fruit or water.

When we are talking about things in general, in other words, not specific things, we always use the plural form of countable nouns or the non-countable noun. Here are a few examples:

  • Which do you like better, cats or dogs? Not, Which do you like better, cat or dog.
  • Bananas are cheaper than strawberries.
  • Mobile phones have become essential tools in our daily lives.
  • Do you often go to baseball games?
  • What kind of fruit do you like?
  • Do you prefer coffee or tea?

Be careful! In some cases, the name of the animal (like chicken) is the same word as the name of the meat from that animal (like chicken). So when you talk about the meat, then use the singular form, because the words for meat (like chicken, beef, pork, etc) are not countable. If you use the plural form, it means you are talking about the animal, not the meat.

  • I like chickens means, I like the animals, chickens.
  • I like chicken means, I like eating chicken meat.

In the same way, the conversation could get very strange:

  • I like cats means, I like the animals, cats.
  • I like cat means, I like eating cat meat!!

What is your favorite kind of fruit? Leave a comment here and let me know.

  • Mahdi

    Thank you so much Michael. I’m learning your lessons every day, And most interesting point for me is that it take me no much time in a day but in long term I’m improving my english, which I had no time to do that these days.

    Once agin thank you.

    By the way, I like oranges and cherries.

    • http://blog.myhappyenglish.com Michael

      Thanks Mahdi. I appreciate the feedback :)
      I like oranges and cherries too!

  • http://javiervallestero.blogspot.com.es Francisco Javier

    I particularly like melon, watermelon, cherries, plums, etc.

    I still have to find a fruit I don’t like!

    By the way, some things can be countable or uncountable:

    I had some cake / Would you like a cake?

  • Danniella

    This website has been helping me a lot. Thanks Happy English.

    By the way, I like apples!

    • http://blog.myhappyenglish.com Michael

      Thanks so much! I like apples too :)

  • Danniella

    I´d like ask you something. Which is correct to say: my favorite fruit IS apples or ARE apples.

    • http://blog.myhappyenglish.com Michael

      Great Question. The subject and verb have to agree, so “my favorite fruit is apples”

  • remsweet

    i like an apples and oranges
    and thanks for lessons

    • http://blog.myhappyenglish.com Michael

      Thanks Remsweet…Just be careful. We don’t use “a” or “an” before plural, countable nouns. so “I like apples and oranges” works better :)

  • sarab

    it’s good , thanks for your lesson ,
    I like to improve my English
    thanks

  • Mike

    Nice lesson michael!, I’ve never seen a web page like this where i can learn clearly.

    • http://blog.myhappyenglish.com Michael

      Thanks Mike. I’m glad you hear that :)