Monday, April 28, 2008
Bananas and Rices
This probably isn't something many people think about on a regular basis, but when you do stop to think about it, it seems odd. Why is it one banana but not one rice? Why two bananas but not two rices? Both words, banana and rice, are nouns. So why do they behave differently? The answer is that they are different kinds of nouns. The word banana is a type of noun known as a count noun. One banana, two bananas, three bananas and so forth. The word rice is a type of noun known as a mass noun. Mass nouns cannot be counted and are only pluralized when referring to a particular type of that object, for example: The restaurant introduced some new wines. This is why mass nouns require an additional descriptive noun in order to talk about them in terms of quantity. Grain of rice, bottle of wine, piece of wood, and so on.