I like dogs better than cats

Listen to the lesson as you read:

[powerpress url="http://blog.myhappyenglish.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Using-Plural-Nouns-When-Speaking-Generally1.mp3"]

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.