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Singular or Plural Tagging/Labeling in Portuguese Language

Discussion in 'Português (Portuguese)' started by xxb, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. xxb Junior Member

    Hello all! I'd like to ask about an issue that drew my attention in Portuguese. Why are countable items tagged/labeled in the form of bare singular nominal in Portuguese language?

    In Portuguese language, I know that there is countable/uncountable distinction. Hence, in Portuguese language countable nouns are used plural in a sentence just like saying "I bought apples" in English. However at groceries/stores in Portugal I noticed that many kinds of fruit and vegetables are tagged singular. For example apples are tagged as "maçã" not "maçãs". There are also plural usages at the labels of packages such as "ervilhas(peas)" and "morangos(strawberries)". I know that count/mass distinction appears in many European languages and plural form is preferred in order to tag/label such items on price tags, product packages, ingredients/nutrition lists etc. due to sentential usage. In English, countable nouns are all tagged in plural such as apples, strawberries, oranges, jackets etc.if they are more than one.

    Why is there that inconsistency and h
    ow are countable items are tagged in Portuguese? For example if I have a product which is a bag of oranges, should I translate it labeling as "laranja" or "laranjas"? If a product includes oranges, in the ingredients list is it written as "laranja" or "laranjas"? Is there any literature, research that touches upon that tagging/labeling issues? Thank you very much for your help and contribution.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  2. LuizLeitao

    LuizLeitao Senior Member

    São Paulo, Brazil

    One possible explanation for this apparent inconsistency is that at a market, or fair, for instance, it's usual to write "banana $0,00", or "maçã $ 0,00". Thus, meaning one banana (rarely sold in units down here in Brazil, but in dozens) costs $ 0,00, or one apple. The meaning would be "apiece". On the other hand, a pack of potato chips would be labelled "batatas chips", although one would order at a restaurant "batata frita". We usually say I like "batata frita", and not "batatas fritas"; both forms are correct. We say and write "suco de laranja" (orange juice) and not "suco de laranjas"; suco de uva... And yes, it's usual to write a can of ervilhas, or to say "morangos com creme". Concerning ingredients, a label would be written: contents suco de laranja, pedaços de maçâ, but ameixas (if many and entire, not in pieces).

    I believe you shouldn't worry too much about this issue. If you write on a price tag "maçãs" or bananas, either singular or plural will be correct (unless, of course, in the case of a pack containing one sole unit).
  3. anaczz

    anaczz Senior Member

    À beira do Oceano Atlântico
    Português (Brasil)
    I notice that in Portugal the plural is more usual than in Brazil.

    Suco de fruta (Pt Br) X Sumo de frutas (Pt EU)
    Sal de fruta X Sais de frutos
    Lavar o cabelo X Lavar os cabelos
  4. xxb Junior Member

    Thanks for the answers. I can understand that if something is sold as singular units it is also appropriate to tag it singular on a price tag. As it is common all over the world, aren't many fruit and vegetable kinds (apples, bananas, oranges etc.) sold in kilos (mass) rather than one by one in Portugal? I saw that unit weight was kg or gram, on Portuguese supermarket web sites you can see those examples. What I mean about the packages is packages that only contain the product itself like a package of frozen strawberries or a package of apples where nominal form of the nouns are used not like potato chips. I've never seen apples in plural form at the tags, it was "maçã" however there were more than one apple in the package or the unit selling amount was kg in a supermarket.
    p.s: Restaurant menus are also another example for such linguistic landscape.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  5. marta12 Senior Member

    Isso é apenas nas 'tags'. É uma maneira de escrever de supermercado e de frutarias.
    Dizemos: saco de maçãs, saco de batatas, caixa de morangos, etc.
  6. marta12 Senior Member

    É raro ouvir 'lavar os cabelos'. É mais frequente dizermos 'lavar o cabelo' ou 'lavar a cabeça'.
  7. englishmania

    englishmania Senior Member

    European Portuguese

    Concordo. Lavar os cabelos não se ouve.
  8. xxb Junior Member

    Thanks but it will be appreciated if you can answer in English. So, in Portugal/Portuguese what is the custom, widely used method(singular or plural) to tag anything countable if the quantity is more than one? If the custom/method singular does it have an explanation? From English to Spanish in all other languages there are plural expressions (such as I sell/buy apples/jackets etc.) and they use plurals to tag anything countable if the quantity is more than one, which is compatible with the grammar/sentential meaning. I think there must be some explanations in linguistics/translation studies regarding that issue in Portuguese.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  9. englishmania

    englishmania Senior Member

    European Portuguese
    Marta said that this can be seen in fruit shops but people don't usually speak/write like that in other situations: um saco de batatas, adoro morangos.
  10. anaczz

    anaczz Senior Member

    À beira do Oceano Atlântico
    Português (Brasil)
    Regarding to labels, the usual is using the singular name of the content, for both, countable or not countable items. I think there is no gramatical rule for it, it's a matter of usage. As Luiz said, if you use singular or plural it will be understood equally.

    In these online stores you find both cases

    Brasil mandioca, vagem, batata, espinafre but ervilhas
    Portugal castanha, cebola, cenoura, but espinafres, favas, ervilhas
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2013
  11. xxb Junior Member

    Thanks for the comments. Is that singular tendency to tag items in Portuguese only seen at supermarkets, groceries or is it more widely used to tag any plural item? (whatever you can think i.e. ingredient lists, restaurant menus, any product packages that don't necessarily have to include fruit and vegetables etc.)

    Excuse my curiosity but different examples and comments about that issue in Portuguese seems surprising to me. What is more surprising, in the literature I also couldn't find any explanation regarding such usages of bare nominals.

    At any other language I have seen so far, tagging/labeling/naming whatever we can call that action is practiced in line with the usage in the language. For example, as you know in English speaking countries people tag apples as "apples" not "apple" because they say "I buy/like apples". Same situation is seen in other languages which ranges from Spanish to Russian. For example, in Turkish speaking countries tagging is singular because it is said "I buy apple" not "I buy apples." Tagging apples plural sounds very unnecessary and wrong in Turkish, hence noone uses plural tags.

    So, compared to all other languages that tendency to use singulars in Portuguese seems inconsistent and surprising to me. As far as I understand, items are counted in sentences but this doesn't reflect to tags in Portuguese. For example, it is said "eu comprar maçãs" but apples are tagged/labeled as "maçã".
  12. anaczz

    anaczz Senior Member

    À beira do Oceano Atlântico
    Português (Brasil)
    In Brasil it's as usual to say "Eu comprei maçã" as "Eu comprei maçãs"

    Yes, it's quite normal for, let's say, screws, clothes, vegetables etc.
    You can use the plural, then it will be about the whole content of the pack and can also use the singular, then you'll talking about the kind of product that is inside the packet:
    Parafuso para madeira philips cabeça chata - pacote com 100 peças.

    What kind of material is inside the packet? parafuso para madeira philips (wood screws with philips head)
    What is inside the packet? parafusos

    Cueca de algodão pacote com 10 unidades
    What are you selling? Cuecas (cotton briefs)
    What kind of thing is inside this packet? cueca de algodão

    something like that...
  13. xxb Junior Member

    Thank you very much for your contribution. Maybe this topic may sound unnecessary, I can understand that both ways of tagging wouldn't be wrong. However, tendency to use singular(kind name) or plural(all together, the quantity) seemed very interesting to me. (It's rare to see singular tagging in English in this manner.) Maybe on the contrary to what I claim, Portuguese isn't the only language which tags/labels countable things singular at the same time allowing plural for them in the grammar/expressions. Maybe I must ask that issue in English forum with the participation of many different native speakers in order to see the situation all over the world.

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
  14. xxb Junior Member

    I'd like to ask one more last question. After those explanations I know any more, only kind denotation regardless of quantity hence singular is used convenitonally in Portuguese tagging/labelling although quantity is expressed in sentences grammatically such as "I buy/like apples". In Portuguese, I can understand that it is enough to tag apples,carrots etc. as singular in a supermarket or label on a package because important thing above all is denoting kind/type of the product.

    How is that singular/plural issue when it comes to typing ingredients list ? Because ingredients lists matter quantity as well. For example, let's say I purchased a loaf of fruit cake in Portugal/Brazil. In the ingredients list on the package do fruit names appear singular or plural? I assume more than one quantity per fruit type is used in the cake and I mean ingredients list that only show names of the product.

    Hence which ingredients list in Portuguese is possible to see: "Ingredients: Flour, Sugar, Apple, Carrot..." or "Ingredients: Flour, Sugar, Apples,Carrots..."?

    Similar issues might be seen in restaurant menus as well. I'm just trying to understand logic of using bare singulars/plurals in Portuguese. Can we say that logic,meaning and usage in Portuguese tagging/labeling is more or less same with English which has exact same quantity expression/countability in the grammar. Maybe Portuguese speaking people who learn/know English or vice versa may have figure out that situation if significant differences exist. Thank you very much again.

    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  15. xxb Junior Member

    anaczz can you please delete some messages in your inbox? I'd like to send you a PM regarding Portuguese but I'm having a notification that you exceeded message quota so I'm not able to send it. In case Im sending an e-mail to you. Thanks a lot for your understanding! :)

    Last edited: Jul 17, 2013
  16. diego-rj

    diego-rj Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I'm not sure everyone will agree with me on this, but here's a thought.

    When saying "I like apples", it is implied you are talking in a general way. If I were to say something similar in Portuguese, I would simply say "Gosto de maçã", using the singular. I don't know, but saying "Gosto de maçãs" wouldn't sound natural to me. If anyeone said that to me (using the plural), I would understand as "I like different types of apples", but not "I like apples in general". I think the singular is better in this case.
  17. xxb Junior Member


    Thanks for the input diego-rj. Although I have limited knowledge about Portuguese compared to you the native speakers, I don't think the usage you mentioned is grammatically correct. Yes it might be a daily/colloquial usage but if it was the case everyone would teach Portuguese with singulars and I wouldn't ask all those questions.

    As explained in the posts, I can understand reason/logic here to some extent:kind of fruit/vegetable regardless of quantity is labeled with the price such as "maça kg $ 2" instead of "maças kg $ 2". Here I'd like to clarify my points since I realized that plural is also used extensively in Portuguese which is compatible with sentential/grammatical usage. Especially when it comes to packages I realized that for any kind of product from wet wipes to corn flakes ( i.e. lenços umedecidos, flocos de milho) is labeled plural which sounds okey for me. I think due to quantity matters in packages ,so do in grammar, plural form is used for labeling fruit and vegetable packs as well (they are counted) such as maçãs, laranjas, ervilhas, cenouras etc. However I can say that as far as I've seen, singular labeling is still widely used for those fruit and vegetable packs on the contrary to other products.

    So, I'd like to understand why kind denotation regardless of quantity which is singular form itself is used for fruits and vegetables? I mean why a pack of apples is labeled as maçã in singular while a pack of cotton buds is labeled plural as cotonetes? I know it is a way of usage, custom but is it about stating a species, stronger emphasis of kind,when we use maçã or laranja in labelling?

    I really want to understand how a native speaker thinks about/behaves for such a basic issue which confused me. For instance this exemplification will be really helpful for me. Let's say you have some products to be sold by kilos in a supermarket but not fruits and vegetables. Let's say they are candies or jar caps. In Portuguese would you tag them plural such as "candies kg $ 4" or singular "candy kg$ 4" as tagging fruits and vegetables? How is the custom for that? In Portuguese it's also interesting to see that some small sized fruits such as strawberries (morangos) can be tagged plural on the contrary to apples, oranges and pears. So I want to understand in what circumstances singular tagging is widely used, is it peculiar for fruit and vegetables and if so I'd like to understand the logic/reason.

    That's what I understood from the examples I could see on internet and my interpretations so far. Hope I described myself clearly. I'm looking forward to your help, you beautiful Portuguese speakers. Thanks a lot!
  18. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Usage, plainly usage. Cotonetes is how it is written in the box so we would repeat it automatically, and for apples, we don't buy apples, oranges and other fruits in packs (not usual), but in kilos or even units, also you can buy a box of maçãs ou maçã whatever. A kilo of bananas or banana, a dozen of banana or bananas randomly.

    One gondola of maçã. Banana. One can conclude the vendor is referring to the fruit itself and not the quantity of it.
  19. J. Bailica Senior Member

    Português - Portugal
    Concordo com a Vanda, mas arrisquei um possível e eventual rascunho de explicação ulterior... O «porquê» pode ser sempre tanto a pergunta mais gratificante como a mais ingrata... Parece-me que temos realmente a tendência para o singular como forma de enfatizar o 'tipo', 'género' ou 'kind' :) das coisas. Não sei se há uma «lógica» ou «regra» muito estabelecida e pronta a inserir num manual de instruções, infelizmente. Em todo o caso, posso especular: parece-me que as coisas muito pequenas, e que já por si transmitem uma ideia de «consumo múltiplo», isto é, em (pequenos) um ou mais grupos de vários elementos - como uma ou mais colheradas(grupo(s)) de ervilhas (elementos), ou uma garfada de lulas (para não ser só vegetais:)) - têm mais probabilidade de aparecerem no plural (outros exemplos: cerejas, pevides...); no entanto, há exemplos que vão em sentido contrário, como 'feijão'!!! (Lá se vai a minha teoria!; ou talvez seja uma exceção à regra, se é que existe regra...). Mas acontece que, na minha singela e superficial reflexão sobre o assunto, outro dos fatores que podem, talvez, eventualmente, quem sabe, influenciar as 'tags' é o grau de familiaridade que temos com as coisas (aquilo que já é tão comum que nem se dá pela sua existência é apodado de 'arroz com feijão' no Brasil, acho eu, e a propósito). O feijão, a darmos alguma espécie de credibilidade à minha recém-nascida tese, mas de fato é assim, é 'o pão nosso de cada dia', é (ou foi) algo que está sempre presente, enquanto que com as ervilhas não é bem assim (como vê, não é só nas 'tags' que a diferenciação é feita; também se diz: "gosto muito de feijão, mas detesto ervilhas", por exemplo; e embora se possa até inverter o 'indicador de quantidade' [?], assim como está, parece ser mais natural). Os doces, como os do seu exemplo, surgem normalmente no plural: caramelos, rebuçados, pastilhas [em Portugal], chocolates (mas, claro, se for algo específico já não é assim: Chocolate BAILICA ...); talvez isto seja assim por causa da ideia implícita de quantidade, como referi - é mais natural a venda de um conjunto de vários destes elementos. Curiosamente, de entre os pequenos bolos de pastelaria, aqueles mais comuns podem surgir no singular: "pastel de nata - 2.00 / kg"; mas os menos conhecidos (ou talvez eu esteja a ser muito especioso na escolha...) parece que surgem mais frequentemente no plural: "roscas - 4.00 / kg" (é um doce do alto Minho). Se for assim, reforça-se a ideia de que o que é mais comum tende a surgir no singular. Antes de acabar, dizer-lhe só que este fenómeno não se regista apenas entre os frutos e vegetais; também no peixe e marisco (carapau, sardinha, robalo, camarão...; mas lulas e delícias do mar :)); e até fora dos 'comes-e-bebes': prego - 1.00 / kg; por alguma razão, aliás, o prego se vende ao Kg mas os parafusos à unidade.
  20. anaczz

    anaczz Senior Member

    À beira do Oceano Atlântico
    Português (Brasil)
    xxb, já limpei minha inbox.
  21. xxb Junior Member

    Thanks a lot! It seems a detailed explanation. However I don't have enough Portuguese to understand it. It will be really appreciated if someone can translate it.

  22. xxb Junior Member

    Açúcar, ovo integral pasteurizado, farinha de trigo enriquecida com ferro e ácido fólico, cobertura sabor chocolate ao leite (contém leite), calda sabor nozes aromatizada artificialmente, gordura vegetal, nozes, castanha de caju, óleo de soja, sorbitol (umectante), glicose de milho, fermento químico: bicarbonato de sódio, fosfato monobásico de cálcio e pirofosfato dissódico, mono e diglicerídeos de ácidos graxos (emulsificante), conservadores: propionato de cálcio e sorbato de potássio, sal, lecitina de soja (estabilizante).

    So, here is the ingredients list of an actual product, a packaged cake (If you want I can give you the link where this list appears but when you copy&paste the list on search engine you will see it). In order to denote the kind, countable ingredients were named in singular form in this list but with one exception which is "nozes". Eggs and cashew nuts were named as "ovo" and "castanha de caju". On the contrary, nuts were named with plural as "nozes" , instead of "noz". I'd like to state that there aren't different kind of nuts in the cake so that it was used as "nozes". Other nut kind was also seperately denoted with singular as "castanha de caju". I see plural denotation of nuts (for the one kind) at the other cakes as well whereas other countable materials were named with singulars.

    Is there something special about naming/calling "nozes" instead of "noz" even in such an example where singular form is used? How would you name nuts if you start with singular nouns for the products in such an ingredients list?

    Related with this,
    for instance in Portuguese can we say "I like castanha" or "I didn't buy apple this week" instead of "I like castanhas" or "I didn't buy apples this week". Can singulars be used instead of plurals, is it grammatically correct? Because, in Portuguse learning books, web sites I've never seen such kind of usage. Instead they assess using singulars in such sentences incorrect. If so, why isn't it preferred to teach? Please correct me if I'm wrong. I just want to clarify some issues which confused me. Thank you very much!

  23. J. Bailica Senior Member

    Português - Portugal
    Besides the (possible) factores I already tried to indicate, some others may exist, like the phonetics. We all can understand your doubts, but the fact is that it's really hard to understand the phenomenon, and even more so to explain it. Maybe you could let thongs aside for now, and try to focus on other matters, trying to cathing more and more the musicallity / phonetics, the usage, etc. of the language before you get obsessed with one issue in particular. In languages not everythin has a 2+ 2 logic. Sorry for my english (I will just say that the all thing is arbitrary, more or less, the gramar books often just say what is commom, etc.), goodbye and, very honestly, good luck! :) [not in the cinical sense of "good luck with your impossible quest!", I mean; I just want to say boa sorte :)]
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  24. William Stein Senior Member

    San Jose, Costa Rica
    American English
    I agree with Wanda that it is more a question of usage than logic. For example, in English, I would always say "give me bag of celery, please " (not "celeries"). Why? Who knows, that's just the linguistic form that was imposed by usage. There is one important "rule" in English that nobody mentioned yet, I believe: Collective nouns that are always singular in normal speech can be plural in technical discourse. For example, nobody would say "fishes" in normal conversation but "freshwater fishes" gets over 1 million Google hits in technical texts. Beginners always say "Look, they made a mistake!", but that's not true at all, it all depends on the level of discourse. The same thing is true of "stainless steel(s). Nobody says "stainless steels" in ordinary speech but the plural gets 1,650,000 Google hits in metallurgy texts! Does the same phenomenon exist in Portuguese?
  25. xxb Junior Member

    First of all, thanks J.Bailica for your good wishes and explanations.

    William Stein, I can understand that depending on the context and terminology singular or plural usage may change in any language. However all other languages have eventually a consistency and it's very simple to understand how tagging/labelling/naming works. I know it's a matter of usage. However from Russian to English in many languages where there is countability, hence quantity matters with the use of plurals, if they are more than one quantity objects are extensively named with plurals on a price tag, label etc.

    This consistency is seen in languages where quantity doesn't matter as well. For instance in Turkish, grammatically it is said: "I like apple", "I bought three onion" or " I don't smoke cigarette" instead of saying "I like apples", "I bought three onions" or "I don't smoke cigarettes". Therefore to denote a kind, every object is named/tagged/labelled with singulars.

    I still can understand usage of singulars in Portuguese language. However, lastly what I'd like to learn regarding previous example how strict is usage of "nozes" with plurals even when naming every other countable material with singulars in an ingredients list? In Portuguese would you all name nuts with plurals as "nozes" after naming cashew nuts, eggs, raisins with singulars? Would it be weird using "noz" instead of "nozes" in such ingredients list?

    Maybe I'm missing some points. William Stein think about an igredients list of cake in English where every each material is denoted with singulars (Though I know plurals are preferred in an ingredients list in English). A similar kind of material even cashew nuts are denoted with singular as "cashew nut" but nuts are denoted with plural. Wouldn't it sound annoying?

    Maybe I may seem digging into those issues unnecessarily and obsessively. However surprisingly, in these singular/plural issues in naming/labelling/tagging context I couldn't find any research/material/exemplificiation even in linguistic resources. So, I just wanted to have your opinions and understand the subject as much as possible. Thanks again, your comments and explanations are really valuable for me.

  26. vaulttech Junior Member

    Português - Brasil (Rio Grande do Sul)
    So... answering objectively:

    I can't see a reason to put "nozes" instead of "noz" there. If I had to guess, I'd go in two directions:

    1 - (more "direct" way of thinking): it is easier to say/hear. I don't know how much you understand portuguese, but our word for "we" is very similar ("nós"). Anyway, since the context is not ambiguous and the same doesn't happen with "amêndoas" or "morangos", this seems a pretty simplistic way of thiking.

    2 - I'd say it's just because we are more used to these word's plurals. As well as with "strawberries", I'm used to normally eat/buy/use/think of more than one only "noz" at a time [but, yes, ok, here I enter in a "who comes first: the egg or the chicken" dilemma: maybe I'm used to this just because of my language]. I'd even go further and say that I only refer to the "strawberry" (singular) when I want to talk about a specific strawberry [or nut]. Even the "Quebra-Nozes" (the Nutcracker... the ballet) is plural for us.

    But this also doesn't explain much: why do I (do you other people also do?) always refer to peanuts (amendoins -- the word is not related to "noz" in portuguese) in singular? [after all, I'm used to eat/buy/use/think of them the same way as I do for nuts]

    [And I even have another problem: we from the Rio Grande do Sul very often simply discard plurals (marking it only in one word, if at all). So I'd even say things like "2 kilo de maçã", "2 maçã", "As maçã", "Os tomate" or "As noz"]

    A third possibility could be a "weak" number 2 (my brother came up with it and I think it would be nice to put here): it is probably too subtle to a non-native speaker, but we are really referring to different things when we put something in singular or plural. For example, when I say "shampoo de nozes" I'm really thinking that "there are more than one only nut in the shampoo", while when I say "shampoo de amendoim" I'm normally thinking "this shampoo is of the type that has peanuts".

    My conclusion is: it is just "idiosyncratic". There are some packs of things that we are more used to refer to as singular and others that we are more used to refer to as plurals. Though not "demanded" by the grammar, it "sounds" better. For example, I have the same "feeling" as "diego-rj" about the "Eu gosto de maçã"/"Eu gosto de maçãs" and I'd normally use the first one.

    And this is definitely not the only part of the language that has this kind of thing. Consider for example the expression "Chocolate cake", which, in portuguese, would be "bolo de chocolate". Although the grammar would allow people say "bolo achocolatado" [compressing "de chocolate" into a single word], it wouldn't be the same ("bolo achocolatado" would simply mean that the cake has chocolate -- and not is made of chocolate). The same [though in the other direction] would happen with "The Digital Era" ("A Era Digital", in portuguese), which we would definitely not replace by "A Era dos Dígitos" or -- even worse -- "A Era dos Dedos".

    Here you can find a list with many of these other "replacements": http://www.soportugues.com.br/secoes/morf/morf34.php
  27. diego-rj

    diego-rj Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I agree with vaulttech in the question related to nozes. Using it in singular would confuse too much with the word nós. Funny story: when I was a kid, I was actually quite surprised when I found out nozes was a word in plural, and that noz would be the singular.

    And someone on the first page (sorry, can't remeber who) said something that I also think is quite accurate. For small things (ervilhas, nozes, etc) the plural is usually the norm. But there are exceptions. As Bailica said, sometimes language doesn't follow a logic. And that can be frustrating for most language learners.
  28. Carfer

    Carfer Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Portuguese - Portugal
    Anyway, 'bolo de noz' is not unusual in European Portuguese (I'd say it's almost as frequent as 'bolo de nozes' if not more). Same with 'tarte de amêndoa'. On the other hand we usually say 'amendoins' (plural). Trying to come up with a rule out of this disorder is almost pointless, I think.
  29. englishmania

    englishmania Senior Member

    European Portuguese
    ^ It's true, I say bolo de noz, tarte de amêndoa, bolo de chocolate, tarde de morango, gelado de baunilha, tarte de maçã, tarte de banana.
    I think we refer to the flavour or type of cake, pie, etc.
  30. J. Bailica Senior Member

    Português - Portugal
    Mais um pontapé na atmosfera, que o jogo está bom: pode haver alguma tendência, mas mesmo só isso, para 'pluralizar' aquilo que 'brota em sociedade', por surgir em vagem, cacho, molho ou 'ramalhete', ou até por serem normalmente produtos de colheita única; como as ervilhas, as cerejas, as favas, brócolos, agriões, framboesas, morangos, amendoins, espinafres, lentilhas, pevides, sandes, torresmos ou marmelos :rolleyes:. E depois há também palavras, noutra jogada de alto risco, que são praticamente ridículas sem o plural, por causa da falta de 'substância sonora credível' ou / e, simplesmente, por causa do tamanho. Que confiança inspiram afinal as palavras choco, lula, noz ou nata (dependendo do contexto)? Mesmo as que têm duas sílabas parecem inventadas para criancinhas de dois anos e respetivo popó. É caso para dizer que têm ainda menos credibilidade que as minhas teses...
  31. anaczz

    anaczz Senior Member

    À beira do Oceano Atlântico
    Português (Brasil)
  32. xxb Junior Member

    Thank you very much all for your comments and ideas! After these detailed explanations now I can see better why "nozes" are preferred to "noz". I'm glad to see discussion of singular/plural naming issues which seem complicated for a foreigner.

    So, what I can conclude after these comments there is a tendency to use singulars to name/tag the things/objects in Portuguese no matter plurals are used in sentences(countable/uncountable distinction in grammar). This is clearly seen on price tags in supermarkets/groceries at fruit and vegetable stalls(i.e. laranja kg. $3) where kind denotation is important . When it comes to smaller sized fruits and vegetables(i.e morangos, ervilhas) plurals are preferred as well which is kind of intuition.

    As you know naming/tagging/labeling can be anywhere for anything. What I see is, at the labels of product packages plurals are still widely used for various products from cotton buds(cotonetes), wet wipes( lenços umedecidos) to toothpicks(palitos) and candies(doces) which makes the issue a little more complicated. I think using plurals on product packages is related with to what extent quantity matters or not. How frequent is using plurals, what do you think about it?
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2013
  33. J. Bailica Senior Member

    Português - Portugal
    How are cotton buds, wet wipes and toothpicks tagged in english?
  34. xxb Junior Member

    In English, any kind of countable objects from apples to cotton buds are widely tagged/labelled in plural form with almost no exception as many languages. Please correct me if I'm wrong but I've seen singular tagging/labelling mostly for fruits and vegetables in Portuguese. I know Portugal Portuguese is more open to use plurals. For example on the web site of a famous Portuguese supermarket, from cookies to wet wipes a lot many products are labelled with plurals on their packages.

    Let me give you another example. I've never seen a price tag as "maças" in plural form in a supermarket but I've seen boxes of apples produced in Brazil with the label of "maças" on the boxes and the boxes include same kind of apples not different kinds. That's why my confusion still goes on. Hope I'm not the first person to see these differences which can be easily seen for instance by an English speaking person. I think native speakers, Portuguese learners and people who are in linguistics and translation are aware of that and they may have some more words to say. I'd like to know how frequent and in which circumstances plural form of nouns are used in tagging/labelling in Portuguese. When a Portuguese speaking person sees a stack of objects such as apples, candies, plates,nails etc. at first glance how he/she names/tags them whether with plurals thinking about quantity or just singulars emphasizing the kind/type. I've seen many incompatible examples so I just want to clarify it lastly.

    Hope I described myself. Thank you very much again.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2013
  35. xxb Junior Member

    Let's say a Portuguese person was born in another country for instance in UK (I mean a country where Portuguese isn't spoken), she was raised there and learned Portuguese from their parents in the family. She isn't aware of the singular tagging/labelling/naming custom. Does she name/tag/label a stack of countable objects(whatever comes to your mind from apples to candies) with plurals as they are used in the grammar( i.e. Eu gosto de maçãs, estes são doces etc.)? For instance would she label apples as maças with plurals or as maça with singular? I mean does that phenomena all depend on environmental factors, customs and usage which we are exposed or is there some grammatical explanation? No matter her native language is Portuguese, does she differ from a foreigner who is learning Portuguese in this manner? This was my last question, I want to thank you all for your answers and patience.I'm looking forward to your replies.
  36. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Então, vamos à minha promessa.
    The PT grammar says:
    Singular= when we refer to a single/unique thing OR a set of beings that are considered as a whole.

    There are some nouns that - generally - are used in singular as well. Nouns of metals and abstract nouns: ferro, ouro, cobre, fé, esperança, caridade. When they appear in the plural form they change meanings. Example: cobre (metal) cobres (money); ferro (metal) ferros (tools, gadgets).

    Nouns that come after collectives should be used in the plural form:
    caixa de fósforos, maço de cigarros, grupo de estudantes, par de sapatos, porção de balas, talão de cheques, etc.

    Well, those are things I've researched in 3 different grammars. So, in summary, we come back to the point: we use this or that word in the plural according to the moment, no fixed rule.
    According to the rule of using plural after collectives, it should be caixa de maçãs, if we take caixa as collective in the context, even though I am pushing the rule here.
    In a google fight I've got: 853 000 results for caixa de maçã, and 351 000 results for caixa de maçãs. We are back to the start point.
    A expatriate would use - I guess - according to what he hears at home or according to rules he has learned - if he had.
  37. xxb Junior Member

    LuizLeitao, can you please describe again what you meant in the first sentences of your post? I have a perception that fruits and vegetables are tagged with singular if only they are sold apiece/one by one not by kilos even in Brazil? Thus it seems contradictive here what you meant on the contrary to other people's responses considering wide usage of singular nouns at any price tag. In your negihbourhood/area are plural price tags preferred such as "laranjas kg $4"? Thank you very much.


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