Candy

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lix

Senior Member
Spanish (Spain)
I'm writing this story and I was wondering - is candy a countable noun? I'm positive I've never heard anyone say 'a candy' wherein candy is a noun, or 'candies'. But I've read 'sweets' somewhere, so I'm a bit confused right now.

I'm going with 'a piece of candy' for now, but I'd be very thankful if someone could solve my curiosity.
 
  • Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Good morning lix. Yes. 'candy' is a countable noun (pl. candies). 'Sweets' is the BE word for 'candies', which is AE. 'Candy' is also an adjective as in 'candy bar', a kind of sweet in both the UK and the USA.
     

    lix

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain)
    'Sweets' is the BE word for 'candies', which is AE.
    I know that, hence the comparison.

    And the candy bar thing - that's why I said I had never seen 'a candy' where candy is a noun. I've seen 'a candy something', but not 'a candy'.

    Thanks to both of you, now I'm even more confused. :p Let's see if someone else has any other, uh, views on the subject.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    In an attempt to clarify:

    I could offer you a candy - Would you like a candy?
    I could offer you some candies - Would you like some candies?

    I'm just going to the candy store to buy some candies.
    I love to have a candy after dinner.
    I have a sweet tooth, I adore candies.

    I hope that helps a bit.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    In an attempt to clarify:

    I could offer you a candy - Would you like a candy?
    Yes, I would say that.

    I could offer you some candies - Would you like some candies?
    I would say "Would you care for some candy?"

    I'm just going to the candy store to buy some candies.
    Same here, I would say "some candy"

    I love to have a candy after dinner.
    I might say this, but more likely I would say, "I enjoy a piece of candy after dinner."

    I have a sweet tooth, I adore candies.
    Here, I would definitely say, "I adore candy."

    Are we looking at another AE/BE thing in all these cases?
    :)
     

    cj427

    Senior Member
    Hmm, both "a candy" and "candies" sound BE, or maybe just old-fashioned, to me.
    I'd say:
    Would you like a piece of candy?
    Would you like some candy?
    You should eat less candy.


    The word "candy" has now lost all meaning to me. Candy candy candy.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hmm, both "a candy" and "candies" sound BE, or maybe just old-fashioned, to me.
    I'd say:
    Would you like a piece of candy?
    Would you like some candy?
    You should eat less candy.


    The word "candy" has now lost all meaning to me. Candy candy candy.
    After a nice dinner, the bill/tab usually comes with candies on the tray, each individually wrapped. I take a candy and my dining partners each take a candy. Collectively, there is candy on the tray but individually, they are candies.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    I find the expression 'a piece of candy' very odd, considering that a candy is an individual thing (like a sweet) and not part of something larger, like a bar of chocolate.

    With chocolate you have the two alternatives:

    'Would you like a chocolate?' - when referring to individually wrapped chocolates.
    'Would yoiu like a piece of chocolate/or some chocolate?' - when referring to a bar of chocolate.
     

    lix

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Spain)
    After a nice dinner, the bill/tab usually comes with candies on the tray, each individually wrapped. I take a candy and my dining partners each take a candy. Collectively, there is candy on the tray but individually, they are candies.
    That's awesome, thank you. I so get it now.

    And I think I've heard the Canada thing you mention, Dimcl. It's always good to hear it in a somewhat serious context, though.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    To me, both "a chocolate" and "a candy" sound British. That is, I would not say them.

    I would say "a piece of chocolate" and "a piece of candy." "Chocolate" and "candy" are uncountable substances to me, and not individual items.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Candy can be both countable and uncountable. As mentioned before, one can request or offer a candy, candies, and some candy. Curiously, while I've often heard candies, I have no recollection of hearing candies prefaced by any number.

    He ate some candies. But never, "He ate five (or whatever other number you like) candies."
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    To me, both "a chocolate" and "a candy" sound British. That is, I would not say them.

    I would say "a piece of chocolate" and "a piece of candy." "Chocolate" and "candy" are uncountable substances to me, and not individual items.
    If you were offering me a box of chocolates to choose from, you would say "Have a piece of chocolate"? We call each individual "piece" in the box "a chocolate" because "a piece" of chocolate implies that the chocolate is all the same...
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    If you were offering me a box of chocolates to choose from, you would say "Have a piece of chocolate"? We call each individual "piece" in the box "a chocolate" because "a piece" of chocolate implies that the chocolate is all the same...
    Yes, I would say "a piece of chocolate," which I don't think implies that it's all the same kind of chocolate.

    I think "a chocolate" or "chocolates" is fine; I just don't think I've ever said it, except in the quote "Life is like a box of chocolates...". :D
     

    gwrthgymdeithasol

    Senior Member
    English, Wales
    To me, both "a chocolate" and "a candy" sound British. That is, I would not say them.
    Ah; so you don't want to sound cool then! Go ahead, talk like an American, but don't ever speak on British TV please ;-p

    Candy's about as British as a Big Mac.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Ah; so you don't want to sound cool then! Go ahead, talk like an American, but don't ever speak on British TV please ;-p
    You must have misunderstood my comment. "I would not say it" did not indicate a statement of voluntary resoluteness, but rather the status quo. Please note that my profile lists "American English" as one of my native languages.
     

    gwrthgymdeithasol

    Senior Member
    English, Wales
    You must have misunderstood my comment. "I would not say it" did not indicate a statement of voluntary resoluteness, but rather the status quo. Please note that my profile lists "American English" as one of my native languages.
    OK, sorry, I didn't notice. But in that case I'm surprised you've never heard 'a candy'...but then again, you're not exactly in the thick of the American language geographically...
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    OK, sorry, I didn't notice. But in that case I'm surprised you've never heard 'a candy'...but then again, you're not exactly in the thick of the American language geographically...
    I did not say I had never heard it. It just sounds British to me. Notice that cj427 said something similar several posts back. Maybe it's a generational thing. :)
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Yes, I would say "a piece of chocolate," which I don't think implies that it's all the same kind of chocolate.

    I think "a chocolate" or "chocolates" is fine; I just don't think I've ever said it, except in the quote "Life is like a box of chocolates...". :D
    I find that very interesting. To me, a "piece" of anything is from the same source ie. a piece of apple, a piece of pie, a piece of my fist ;) , etc. An individual type of chocolate, different from its brothers, is a chocolate as opposed to a "piece of chocolate" which still sounds, to my mind, like it comes from the same larger object.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I find that very interesting. To me, a "piece" of anything is from the same source ie. a piece of apple, a piece of pie, a piece of my fist ;) , etc. An individual type of chocolate, different from its brothers, is a chocolate as opposed to a "piece of chocolate" which still sounds, to my mind, like it comes from the same larger object.
    Well, I think a "piece of chocolate" could mean that, but it doesn't have to. If I had a huge hunk of chocolate and I was breaking off pieces and passing them out, then I would say "Have a piece of chocolate" meaning part of the larger entity. However, I think "piece of chococlate" can also mean one small portion of chocolate, and I don't see why "two pieces of chocolate" can't have come from two different sources. If you had a slice of pumpkin pie and a slice of apple pie, would you not call them "two pieces of pie," because they each came from a different source? Similarly, if you had five pieces of paper that each came from a different source (one was ripped out of notebook, one was a piece of computer paper, etc.), would you not say "Have a piece of paper" if you were offering me one?

    My conclusion is that "of chocolate" can refer to a common source or simply to the general substance.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    If you were offering me a box of chocolates to choose from, you would say "Have a piece of chocolate"? We call each individual "piece" in the box "a chocolate" because "a piece" of chocolate implies that the chocolate is all the same...
    Not in the UK, you wouldn't Dimcl. You'd say 'have a chocolate', especially if they were assorted and therefore obviously not part of a piece.
     

    equivoque

    Senior Member
    Australia - English
    I tend to agree with Dimcl, a chocolate is one of those individually wrapped chocolates. A piece of chocolate would come from a chocolate bar or block (AU.E).

    No such animal as a candy bar in Aus. but a candy would translate to a lollie and candies to lollies. Clearly cultural differences make this subject a bit awkward.
     

    Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Ah, then we would call them by name. For example, there is a "sort of" bar sold here in Canada that is 100% caramel (caramels as per your response are individually-wrapped candies) but we would say "I'm going to buy a McIntosh Toffee bar", not a candy bar. More wordy, yes, but much more specific.
     

    Old Novice

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Are there "candy bars" without chocolate in them? If there are, they should be outlawed! ;) I'm not really aware of any "bars" that don't have chocolate... what would they be?
    Sorry, I haven't been online to respond.

    Ther are various nut-based candy bars. Planters has one, for example. Also Pearson's. However, wiki confirms both that there are non-chocolate candy bars and that BE/CE nonetheless uses the term "chocolate bar."
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I tend to agree with Dimcl, a chocolate is one of those individually wrapped chocolates. A piece of chocolate would come from a chocolate bar or block (AU.E).

    No such animal as a candy bar in Aus. but a candy would translate to a lollie and candies to lollies. Clearly cultural differences make this subject a bit awkward.
    Candy in the US and Canada can mean all types of confectionery.

    In Australia, we think of chocolates and lollies/sweets as belonging to different categories of confectionery.

    If you say candy in Australia, we think of hard candy. We wouldn't think of something like Hershey's Kisses, or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I may as well throw in my two calories ...

    (1) Chocolate = the substance, chocolate only - or chocolate mostly with some kind of embedded bits.

    (2) A piece of chocolate = a piece of a larger block of (1), or perhaps an individually-formed piece of (1).

    (3) A bar of chocolate = a larger block of (1), as referred to in (2). A bar of chocolate is intended to be broken into pieces before being eaten, and may be shared (ouch).

    (4) A chocolate bar = a confection formed from chocolate and any of a wide variety of embedded bits or fillings. A chocolate bar is intended to be eaten in bites, and should not be shared, except with very close friends.

    (5) A chocolate = an individually-formed confection that is mostly chocolate but contains either a filling of some kind or perhaps some kind of embedded bits. It is normally supplied with a number of others having a variety of fillings and/or embedded bits. It may take the form of a miniature version of a chocolate bar (4).

    (6) Chocolates = a quantity of (5).

    In my part of the world, the word candy is not often used. When it is, it never refers to chocolate. Its most common use is in candy floss - known elsewhere as cotton candy.
     

    Xander2024

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Candy can be both countable and uncountable. As mentioned before, one can request or offer a candy, candies, and some candy. Curiously, while I've often heard candies, I have no recollection of hearing candies prefaced by any number.

    He ate some candies. But never, "He ate five (or whatever other number you like) candies."
    Which word would you use then? For example, if we were to do a children's sum: John had five candies(?), he ate three. How many candies(?) does he have now?
    Do we have to use "pieces of candy" in this case?

    Thank you.
     

    Porteño

    Member Emeritus
    British English
    Which word would you use then? For example, if we were to do a children's sum: John had five candies(?), he ate three. How many candies(?) does he have now?
    Do we have to use "pieces of candy" in this case?

    Thank you.
    No, you wouldn't. I think cuchufletes point was that it would be considered rude to say that someone had eaten a specific number of candies.:)
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Which word would you use then? For example, if we were to do a children's sum: John had five candies(?), he ate three. How many candies(?) does he have now?
    Do we have to use "pieces of candy" in this case?
    We would indeed say "pieces of candy." (but we might say, "chocolates," "bon-bons" or "candy bars" as well.)

    It's certainly not rude in my opinion, particularly since you're talking about children, and in any case the question is about language, not etiquette.
     

    Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Or, one could certainly say, "How much candy does he have left?"
    I would be fine with saying "pieces of candy" as well. I'd not find that rude at all.


    Unless it was my candy, you ate it and were rubbing it in my face. :D
     
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