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a head of lettuce?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ceviche, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. ceviche Junior Member

    peru
    SPANISH
    hi, there friends
    As lettuce is a non-countable noun,what noun of quantity can I use for lettuce "a head of lettuce"? and for cabbage and celery?
    thank you
     
  2. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    If you are talking about particular lettuce plants, then lettuce is countable. "I bought three lettuces from the supermarket". You can, however, use "heads of lettuce". Cabbages is the same (although simply "cabbages" is much more common than "heads of cabbage" in my experience), however, "celery", I think, is not. I would probably use "heads" for celery.
     
  3. ceviche Junior Member

    peru
    SPANISH
    I mean in the case I want to make lettuce salad,so I go to the market and say"I want three lettuces or three heads of lettuce"? I knew "lettuce was uncountable"
    Is Cabbage countable? and celery?
     
  4. kitenok Senior Member

    My AmE brain only counts "lettuces" if we're talking about different types of lettuce. If I buy three plants at the store that are the same kind of lettuce, this is (for me) always "three heads of lettuce." "Three cabbages," however, can be synonymous with "three heads of cabbage." I would buy "three bunches of celery."
     
  5. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Far be it for me to argue the fine points of lettuce plants with a Mole...but...
    we have an AE<>BE distinction here. AE might well use lettuces for plants 'on the hoof', but once harvested they would become heads of lettuce, not lettuces.

    Of all the lettuces in my garden, the Bibb is my favorite. The mole seems to like it too.

    The noun is both countable and uncountable, depending on context.


    Edit: Oops! Kitenok got to the head of the matter first.
     
  6. ceviche Junior Member

    peru
    SPANISH
    Hi
    and for questions it is "are there any lettuces?" or "Is there any lettuce?" I am really confused because I always thought "lettuce"was uncountable in the market situation-never "lettuces".Now you say it is possible to say in a shopping situation "I bought three lettuces"
     
  7. ceviche Junior Member

    peru
    SPANISH
    Yes ,Cuchuflete
    that is what I learned in school and language center: market context "heads of lettuce" and garden situation "lettuces".
    And it is the same for cabbages,isn't it? and for celery and grapes? -talking about market context -is it "bunch of grapes?"
    kisses
     
  8. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    Yes, there seems to be an American/British English difference here. In British English we do not have to say "heads of lettuce", we can say "lettuces".

    It's similar to the usage of "cabbage" in the U.S., if I understand what Kitenok is saying:

    "Get me three cabbages [countable] from the supermarket, we're having cabbage [uncountable] for lunch."
     
  9. kitenok Senior Member

    Hi Matching Mole,
    I think I would be significantly more likely to request "three heads of cabbage" in this situation, but there's something about "three cabbages" in that sense that sounds at least normal enough to understand and maybe deploy if I were in the right mood. However, if my wife asked me to pick up "three lettuces" at the store, I would certainly ask her to clarify which varieties she wanted in tonight's salad.
    I wonder what other American English speakers think about countable cabbages... I feel like it might be just on the edge of acceptablity.
     
  10. Burgundy Miss

    Burgundy Miss Senior Member

    Burgundy, France (for many long years)
    English (West coast American)
    What do you say to "a stalk " of celery?
     
  11. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Peter Rabbit ate all the cabbages he could. The cabbages at the local organic grocery store are overpriced. I have no problem whatsoever with countable cabbages, especially in cole slaw.

    As for grapes, I'll eat twenty-three, and then have six more for dessert. Grapes is/are countable and uncountable depending on context.

    Please buy a few pounds/kilos of black grapes, but don't eat more than a dozen on the way home.
     
  12. ceviche Junior Member

    peru
    SPANISH
    hello,friends
    so cabbage is countable,isn't it?I can ask "are there any cabbages?" and celery?
    thanks
     
  13. kitenok Senior Member

    I'd say, "Hello, celery..." ;)

    But really, I would say that a "stalk" is one of the long, skinny pieces that I pull off of the "bunch."
     
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    One carrot, two carrots.
    One lettuce, two lettuces.
    One cabbage, two cabbages.
    One stick of celery, two sticks of celery.
     
  15. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Once the lettuce(s) or celery have been chopped up is when the become uncountable! At a buffet where you are being served by the person behind the counter, tere is a bowl of lettuce together with some sliced celery, cucumber and tomatoes. You can't then ask for "Can I have three lettuces, two cucumbers, 4 tomatoes and a celery"
    Seems to me, they are countable when whole (sometimes also needing a counter word such as head, corm or clove (for garlic), bunch, stalk, stick - like sheets of paper and head of cattle) and uncountable when "processed". That would cover most of the usage issues here, I suspect.
     
  16. frenchglen New Member

    English - AU/UK (prefer UK)
    Hi everyone,


    So head it seems to be, but could 'punnet' be acceptable as well? Just curious. though after some thought I think head of lettuce is the one that sounds best and is most conventional.

    in fact - you know a little google trick to find out: compare the results for "punnet of lettuce" (with quotation marks) and "head of lettuce" - ah, there's my answer!
     
  17. RM1(SS)

    RM1(SS) Senior Member

    Connecticut
    English - US (Midwest)
    I've never heard that word before. I would call the items shown in the Wikipedia picture "boxes," or possibly "baskets." And I wouldn't expect that to be the way lettuce would be sold.

    I have to agree with those who say that "lettuces" would be either lettuce plants (from a garden shop) or types of lettuce. At the grocery store I buy either "lettuce" (uncountable) or "heads of lettuce" (countable).
     
  18. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Lettuce and punnet don't go together!

     
  19. Round here, nobody ever talks about a head of lettuce or cabbage.

    And we buy celery in bunches.

    Rover
     
  20. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Let's imagine you and a child are at a market stall. There is only one head of lettuce in a punnet. You want to tell the child what it is. Would you say: 'This is lettuce' or 'This is a head of lettuce'?
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
  21. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    You could use either especially considering that this is where there would normally be a large number of heads of lettuce. This is where they keep the lettuce. Unfortunately, they only have one head of lettuce left today.
    (Punnet is a new word to me as well. As people have mentioned, a head of lettuce won't fit in a pint basket.)
     
  22. Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    :eek: Look back to a post earlier in this thread
     
  23. jmichaelm Senior Member

    NJ, USA
    American English
    For what it's worth...

    I have never heard anyone use the word "punnet." Almost no AE speakers will know what this is.

    Variation in lettuce counting must be regional. We always said "heads of lettuce" never "lettuces" in the southwestern plains state where I was raised.
     
  24. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    Rover,
    I'm not sure if you're around, but if not, what DO British folks say, when Americans say, "To make salad for four people, I'm going to have to buy a whole _____ of lettuce." Of, if you can't reach, in the fruit market, you say to the attendant, "Would you please hand me that ___ of lettuce?"


     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
  25. Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    We say "... a whole lettuce ..." and "... hand me that lettuce ...".
     
  26. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    And suppose, in a display cabinet is a head of lettuce AND a bunch (pile) of loose lettuce leaves from another source.
    "Hand me that lettuce" would be a bit unclear, no? Do you say, "I'd like the intact lettuce, please?" :)
     
  27. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I am now so "bilingual" I can't speak for BrE speakers as a whole (nor can I remember what I would have said before I moved to the US:eek:). However, both " a lettuce" and "a head of lettuce" show up in the Ngrams. In the US the former is about 2x as frequent as the latter, while in British, the ratio is ~5:1, so Rover's experience reflects the relative rarity of the "head of lettuce". I'm equally comfortable with "I need a (whole) lettuce" or "I need a (whole) head of lettuce" to describe the thing as it comes out of the ground. That's all relevant for lettuces that have heads (such as iceberg and butter lettuce). Now for leaf lettuces, where there is no obvious "head" (at least as we harvest ours, some leaves at each harvest and more grow back for future harvest) I would ask for "some (volume/weight of) lettuce" :D
     
  28. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I'm sorry. I thought there were two green plastic containers in that cardboard box. Actually, there are twelve small containers. And you can put a pound of strawberries into a punnet.
     
  29. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    And you you would never say 'This is a lettuce'. But I suspect that the British might say so.
     
  30. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    In the context given, probably not. For me, "a lettuce" is a type of lettuce not a unit of lettuce. (Someone has mistaken some romaine lettuce for bok choy or napa cabbage. "Romaine is a lettuce, not a cabbage.")
     
  31. Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    That never happens. No greengrocer's shop ever displays loose lettuce leaves and whole lettuce in a mixed display. Loose lettuce leaves come in plastic bags in supermarkets, so there's nobody to hand them to you anyway. The term 'head of lettuce" just isn't used as a normal part of everyday shopping.
     
  32. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Pointing to a whole lettuce, be it in a picture or to the last one left on a market stall, would you say: "This is a lettuce"?
     
  33. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Yes:).
     
  34. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Yup, that's a lettuce. A butter lettuce, by the look of it. I'd point to it and say "Can I have that lettuce, please?" And, if necessary, "The one on the end there."
     
  35. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Thanks a lot. :)
     

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