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ESL forum > Ask for help > Question - what do you think???    

Question - what do you think???


Question - what do you think???
Let me just say what a wonderful site this is, and how it puts other ESL sites to shame.
I have a rather tricky questions concerning articles (and it may concern countable/uncountable nouns too).  I am a native British speaker, but I īve been having trouble with correcting my Japanese students ī writing.  They find "the" and uncountable/countable nouns notoriously difficult.
A student wrote:
"My favorite food is the orange."
To me, a native speaker, this sound formals almost scientific as "the" can be used has to refer to a species of things in a formal way.  What do you suggest to improve the sentence (apart from using "fruit" instead of "food").
1.My favorite food is oranges.  [Somehow this sounds awkward - a mismatch of countable/uncountable and singular/plural.  Is it OK?]
2.My favorite food is an orange. [Sounds bad]
3.My favorite food is orange. ["Orange" can be uncountable, but doesn īt sound right here]
Besides the obvious " I like oranges. " does anyone have any suggestions?
ps I also had "My favorite animal is a dog" and several more similar examples.

10 Mar 2009      

United States

How about
oranges are my favorite fruit?
Dogs are my favorite pet?

10 Mar 2009     


I īm also a native speaker, but I did a web check and
My favorite food is oranges.  -  won -  food can be singular or plural  so it fits.
  another  example -  My cat īs favorite food is salmon.

10 Mar 2009     


eng 789
Both oranges and salmon can be C or U;but unlike oranges,salmon never takes the "s" plural.This makes your second sentence about salmon more acceptable than the first one about oranges.
Though it sounds awkward,"My favourite food is orange" is grammatically correct because we don īt speak about orange as a unit but as a food.
For your last example,It īs correct but I īd say"My favourite animals are dogs.
You are always wise
Have a nice day

10 Mar 2009     


Hi Ryan,

The correct answer is as Eng789 said: My favorite food IS oranges... My favorite food is bananas... etc..

It is because as she pointed out, food can be both uncountable and countable and as many nouns that apply to "groups" can be both plural as well as singular, like:

"My family are going away for the weekend..." // "My family is going away for the weekend".. .
"The team are on the mend..." // "The team is on the mend..."

Both "family and team" are plural as well as singular... It all depends on whether you consider them a single unit or a group of people...

Also with the "the" problem... explain that "the" is used when referring to something "specific"...


The blue car... - means that a specific car that they know, have seen or are looking at now is blue.

A blue car ... - means exactly that and they are referring to a car in general not a specific one they know about, have seen or are looking at...

10 Mar 2009     


As a mother tongue speaker - which someone here,  I can īt remember who said it ( damielle, ladybird ??????,  speaks "authentic English".
We would never say-  My favorite food is orange.                             oranges
                                                                  grape.     we would say:   grapes
                                                                  potato.                              potatoes.
                                    My favorite colour is orange.

10 Mar 2009     

alien boy

As a native speaker I will confuse the issue even more for you....

I have heard all of the following as being acceptable by native speakers...

1. "My favourite food is the orange";
2. "My favourite food is an orange";
3. "My favourite food is orange" - this can refer to the colour of the food, not just the fruit, so it is highly ambiguous if there is nothing to contextualise it;
4. "My favourite food is oranges"

As Harim said, "orange" can be C or U.

If the subject is singular then the verb must also be singular. I īd say the subject is "favourite food", which is singular... so "is" would then be correct, even if your talking about orange or oranges.

A lot depends on the register that one is writing or talking in as to whether or not you would use "the ~" or "an/a ~"

So much depends on context. It īs practically impossible to say which form is the best without knowing the context.

I would explain to your students about subject/verb agreement & then provide examples of whichever form you  would like them to use or that agrees with their textbooks...


10 Mar 2009     



If you never say"My favourite fruit is orange",will you consider it incorrect?

For me,I said it īs awkward but correct.Do you have a say?

10 Mar 2009     


I am quoting this from another source "English grammar..." and it says:

Favourite implies a singular answer, but "food" is ambiguous. Let īs say that you were a vegetarian. You would be inclined to say that your favourite food was not a vegetable, but vegetables: yet food remains singular - at least in form. Substitute (as many know here, I love this idea of substitution Tongue ) food by a synonym "fare" and the problem disappears because "fare" does not connote singularity. "My favourite fare is hamburgers," ... therefore "My favorite food IS oranges" is correct.

10 Mar 2009     


My view (in case it helps):

My favourite food is oranges
  is right. 

You use the article when you are speaking about a certain item but omit it when speaking in general.
Thatīs why we say "I like oranges" but "I had the orange for lunch" ("the" here is used only when identifying a certain thing: the orange means they -speakers- know which orange they are talking about otherwise it should have been said "I had an orange for lunch")

Similarly happens with:

I saw a dog in the street  (a dog = any dog)
I saw the dog in the street (they know which dog it is)

10 Mar 2009     

alien boy

harim - I agree that it īs correct too, but I don īt think it īs awkward. It may be a little childlike & direct rather than awkward!

hey Zora! thanks for the add on/clarification to my thought...

Tere-arg  -  they īre great examples of what I mean by context.

Eng789 - maybe you īre talking authentic Canadian English... I speak authentic Aussie English & I īve heard īis orange ī as often as I īve heard īis oranges ī.
Now I need an orange for supper... yummm....

Good night Star

10 Mar 2009