a bag of sugar

azz

Senior Member
armenian
Could one say
a. a sugar bag
instead of
b. a bag of sugar
?

Well, a coffee cup is just a cup and a cup of coffee is a cup which contains coffee, so I'd assume a sugar bag to be a kind of a bag, but as no such thing exists, I wouldn't know what it is!

Could one say 'a pack of sugar' instead of 'a bag of sugar'?


Many thanks.
 
  • exgerman

    Senior Member
    NYC
    English but my first language was German
    A sugar bag can only mean a bag designed to hold sugar (whether it currently has sugar in it or not). I don't think there are any such bags.

    A bag of sugar is a bag that currently contains sugar (whether it is a specially-designed bag for holding sugar or just an ordinary bag).
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    And a coffee cup is a coffee cup whether it has coffee in it or not. A coffee cup is called a coffee cup because of the design and the intention of the design. But if you put water in it, it's still a coffee cup.

    A bag of sugar, at least in the U.S., is sugar in a paper bag-like container. A similar bag is used for flour, cornmeal, etc. so there's nothing specific about it's design that specifies it's intended for sugar (until the word sugar is printed on it, but that's generally not sufficient to think of it as a sugar bag).
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    A sugar bag can only mean a bag designed to hold sugar ... I don't think there are any such bags.
    There certainly are. There's a picture of one in post 2. When I was very young the grocers had a stack of sugar bags, made of blue paper, which they filled with half a pound of sugar when customers bought some.

     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is a pack of sugar - sugar in a sugar bag. Surely the point is that a sugar bag uses an attributive noun in the usual way:
    A sugar bag - a bag for sugar.
    An umbrella stand - a stand for umbrellas.
    etc
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    So, what's the design difference between a sugar bag and a flour bag and a cornmeal bag?

    You can recognize a coffee cup when there is no coffee in it, you can recognize an umbrella stand when there are no umbrellas in it. What is the distinguishing feature of a bag that holds sugar versus a bag that holds something else? (Not counting the label. You don't need a label to recognize an umbrella stand.)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    If I put wine in my coffee cup and coffee in my wine glass I haven't magically created a wine cup and a coffee glass. They are still a coffee cup and a wine glass because of their designs and materials.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Not for me.

    A bag of sugar contains sugar (they used to hold five pounds, now the same sized bag only holds four pounds).

    A sugar bag is a paper or plastic container that sugar packers purchase to create bags of sugar.
    ... and what about an empty bag that once contained sugar, but is now empty? :confused:
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    What about a burlap bag that holds coffee beans? Is that a burlap bag or a coffee bag or a bag of coffee?
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    What about a burlap bag that holds coffee beans? Is that a burlap bag or a coffee bag or a bag of coffee?
    It is a "burlap bag" until it is printed for a special application. At that point it takes on the application's name and becomes "coffee bag" or "pepper corn bag" or "sand bag" etc., but it is never a "bag of coffee" or a "bag of pepper corns" or a "bag of sand" unless it has coffee beans, pepper corns or sand in it.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    For me they are sachets and tubes respectively.
    I think that is a British/USA distinction. I never hear "sachets" at all. I might hear someone describe them as "tubes" but we would not know them as "tubes". I don't think I have seen any sugar or other condiments in tube form.

    We call these liquid filled single servings as "packets" also.

     

    Via32

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    And if we think of a scenario where I really liked the sugar I had bought last time but we used it all up and I don't remember the brand, would you ask something like:

    "Where is the empty sugar bag, did you throw it out? I wanted to check the label."
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    And if we think of a scenario where I really liked the sugar I had bought last time but we used it all up and I don't remember the brand, would you ask something like:

    "Where is the empty sugar bag, did you throw it out? I wanted to check the label."
    Exactly. Once empty it becomes a "sugar bag" and not a "bag of sugar".
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    You can recognize a coffee cup when there is no coffee in it, you can recognize an umbrella stand
    So how do you differentiate a coffee cup from a tea cup, or an umbrella stand from a stick stand? :rolleyes:

    A British sugar bag in the first half of the 20th century was made of a particular type of paper that was not used for any other purpose. Now, apart from the differences in the weight of paper used, a standard sugar bag is made in such a way that it contains 1 kg of sugar and a standard flour bag contains 1 kg of flour. There's no possibility of confusing them; they are different sizes. (There are, of course, other sizes, but each is content specific.) We can't buy flour in sugar bags, or sugar in flour bags.
     
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