a soup/soup

vladv

Senior Member
Russian-Russia
I like onion soup.
Can it be "an onion soup" ? Or it can be both? What's the difference?
 
  • S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    If you like it in general, it takes no article. If you are talking about a particular meal, you can use either article.
    "I'd like an/the onion soup, please" is something you could say to a waiter.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    If there are various kinds, you can talk about one of them. Vegetable soup no doubt covers many different kinds, so you can say that this one is a vegetable soup. And you can also use 'a' for an unspecified kind: I prefer a vegetable soup. That means I don't mind which of the various kinds it is. (I don't know how many onion soups there are, so I'm not using this example - I'm not sure whether 'an onion soup' is reasonable or not.)
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    English - SSBE Standard British
    I would happily say "I made a lovely onion soup yesterday". This would probably be interpreted as a batch or panful of onion soup and/or a particular recipe or kind of onion soup.


    Then, of course, there's the colloquial "I make a lovely onion soup", which is similar to "You must invite Jack to the party. He mixes a mean Margarita" - an idiomatic phrasing to describe someone's ability. Has this one already been discussed elsewhere on WRF?
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I like onion soup.
    Can it be "an onion soup" ? Or it can be both? What's the difference?
    There is a reason why articles are tricky to explain. There are a thousand ways to be countable (a); there are a thousand ways to be specific (the). If you tell us in what sense you are thinking of this soup as countable or specific, we can probably advise more clearly.
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    In a situation where the soup is already presented in discrete portions, the or a can be used. For example, my wife to me in the supermarket: "Are you going past the soups aisle? Could you get an onion soup and a minestrone - the liquid soups in the cartons, not the dried packets? That's great."
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    Soup is uncountable, but bowls and servings are. If you look at the situations in which articles are acceptable, it is always ones in which ''an onion soup" is short for "a bowl/serving of onion soup". Soup in a vat is unquantifiable, hence uncountable. But soup portioned into servings can be counted.
     
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