Bread and meat are uncountable - why?

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jamiep

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Hi,

Does anyone have any tips on explaining why bread, fruit and meat etc. are uncountable.

Apples are easy to explain as uncountable as is sugar as uncountable but my students are not entirely convinced about meat because you can count two steaks etc.

Thanks

Jamie
 

casablanca_30391

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Hi,

Does anyone have any tips on explaining why bread, fruit and meat etc. are uncountable.

Apples are easy to explain as uncountable as is sugar as uncountable but my students are not entirely convinced about meat because you can count two steaks etc.

Thanks

Jamie
Well,
In my opinion, meat is uncountable noun because we don't have any criteria to measure it. We say " one kilogram of meat" or "two steak". It depends on the need of us.
Well,
I do not know my interpretation is useful or not. Generally, I told my students that it is the rule of English, we must accept. It is similar to our language has some rules that foreigners are not able to understand in-depth!:-D
 

yeujin

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it depend also the use of noun in sentence eg(i buy 3 eggs) here is countable but if i said ,(i have egg in my t-shirt) here is uncountable ,case of bread ,i explain to you countable noun and you will understand the other one.
Countable nouns are individual objects like chair ,is made by one material that's why we can count it but bread made by lot of material wheat and salt also meat contain lot of material that's why we can't count it.
 

mfyates

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It's the way you look at it:
The word "traffic" is uncountable. We say, "There isn't MUCH traffic at 5 in the morning." We can also say "There aren't MANY cars in the street at 5 in the morning."
Some words can be both:
"You won't need MUCH material to finish the coat."
"A patchwork quilt is made of MANY materials."
A lot of uncountables can be singularised by using "a piece", not only things which can be physically broken up like "a piece of cake" or "a piece of rock" but abstract nouns like "I need one more piece of information." which emphasises its singularity from "I need some information".

In the case of "bread" the word is usually singularised by the word "loaf". "I want some bread, two loaves please." (although a slice of bread, a piece, etc. are OK of course, in the right context). It can, however, be pluralised in the right context - very specifically about different types of bread. Google it and you will find phrases like "Breads are a group of staple foods."
Meat can be singularised in two ways:
Mutton and beef are two KINDS of meat.
I like smaller PIECES of meat in a ragout.
It can, however, in a clear context, also be used in the plural, as you will see if you google the word. I have just picked, "Other Meats, including rabbit, ostrich, and frog's legs..." off a website.
However in old English the word "meats" meant rather "dishes" (from the French "mets" than meat in its modern sense and in some contexts a degree of ambiguity might subsist. Consequently, even if "meats" can be used, avoid it.It will probably sound funny. Use "kinds of meat", "pieces of meat", "joints of meat" as appropriate instead.
 

BobK

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...Generally, I tell my students that it is the rule of English, we must accept. It is similar to the way our language has some rules that foreigners are not able to understand in-depth!:-D
It's a cultural thing. That's just the way it is.

b
 

adrimab

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Bread and meat are uncountable nouns because they are "mass nouns", i.e. they can't be divided into single units (we can't say one bread, two meats). To do so we have to use another type of nouns called Partitive nouns (a kilo of meat, a loaf of bread). In this case, what is being counted is the partitive noun, not the mass noun.
 

BobK

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:up: So it is for English. As I said, it's cultural. In France, for example, you can have un pain (not just in the obvious sense of a kind of bread - like wholemeal or rye) but kind the meaning a loaf of bread. Learners have problems with this because in their language there's no need of a partitive.

b
 
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