Dump vs. Pour

popthecap

Member
Portuguese - Brazil
Which of these do I use when referring to solid things? Like marbles, sugar cubes etc. I'm afraid pour is only used to liquids and or powder

It's a really trivial question, but I couldn't find the answer in the dictionary
 
  • Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    "Pour" can be used for anything that flows (in the broadest sense of the word), or that moves in a continuous stream. So if you had enough marbles or sugar cubes, you could pour them.

    Used intransitively, we can even say, for example, "people poured out of the building into the street"; or, speaking of a landslide, "rocks and earth poured into the valley".

    Do you have a particular sentence, pop? Much depends on context.

    As for "dump", that can be used independently of the type of material. It's often used for an offhand or careless action, or when whatever is being dumped is unwanted.

    Ws:)
     

    Smauler

    Senior Member
    British English
    "Dump" isn't used for small things. Anything that acts like a liquid, we usually use "pour" for, unless it is a very large amount. Marbles and sugar cubes don't really act like a liquid, we'd usually use either "put","drop" or "throw" depending on the context.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I'd say it's all a matter of scale, Smauler.

    If you had a shopping bag full of small things (sweets, for instance), you could dump them out on the table, implying a quick action that empties the bag in one go — or you could pour them out steadily. (In that context, I wouldn't use "put", "drop" or "throw".)

    Similarly, if that bag were full of marbles or sugar cubes, the same usage could apply. I agree that we wouldn't say "pour" for just half a dozen marbles or sugar cubes.

    Ws:)
     
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    Smauler

    Senior Member
    British English
    Wordsmyth, I don't agree with you that it's all a matter of scale. I would dump my lorry full of wheat at the depot, I would pour my wheat in the kitchen (if I actually ground wheat in the kitchen).

    I'd guess "dump" implies lack of care to some degree, with small things.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    [...] I would dump my lorry full of wheat at the depot, I would pour my wheat in the kitchen (if I actually ground wheat in the kitchen). [...]
    Possibly because you wouldn't have a lorry in your kitchen! :D (A matter of scale? :p)

    But seriously, this goes to show that usage isn't identical even amongst native speakers. It'll be interesting to see if others lean more towards your usage or mine, or indeed have yet a different view.

    Ws:)
     

    popthecap

    Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    I saw a video earlier and the guy was putting effervescent pills out of its sachet he said "... and we're going to start dumping the pills", that was the moment when this doubt came up, do I pour or dump pills? Do they mean the same? I think the same applies for marbles, coins and so. Thanks for the replies
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I'm in general agreement with Wordsmyth: It depends on what's being dispensed and how. I'd personally pour the Cheerios into a cereal bowl, but I've no doubt that a two-year-old would dump them onto the floor.
     
    Last edited:

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I saw a video earlier and the guy was putting effervescent pills out of its sachet he said "... and we're going to start dumping the pills", that was the moment when this doubt came up, do I pour or dump pills? [...]
    Unless you're thinking of taking a lethal overdose by dispensing the whole contents of a large container of pills, I wouldn't say "pour": there usually wouldn't be enough pills to get that continuous flowing action.

    I probably wouldn't "dump" pills either. I'd "put" them in a glass (if they're effervescent). I can't imagine what the situation is in your video, if the guy is "going to start dumping the pills". How many is he handling, and what's he doing with them?

    Ws:)
     

    Smauler

    Senior Member
    British English
    Personally. I'd never pour a shopping bag out (not unless something had spilt in it).

    I agree that we dump them out on the table. Dump...out is a common phrase.

    I think that dump was a metaphor that we used which has come into primary usage.
     

    popthecap

    Member
    Portuguese - Brazil
    I think there were 20 sachets. It's a prank video, he smashes them until they're like powder. I guess "dump" would fit better
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    If you had a shopping bag full of small things (sweets, for instance), you could dump them out on the table, implying a quick action that empties the bag in one go — or you could pour them out steadily. (In that context, I wouldn't use "put", "drop" or "throw".)

    Similarly, if that bag were full of marbles or sugar cubes, the same usage could apply. I agree that we wouldn't say "pour" for just half a dozen marbles or sugar cubes.
    I agree.

    The same holds with liquids: You could pour water from a pitcher into a glass, or you could fill the pitcher with water, invert it, and dump the water all over the floor.

    So overall, I guess, it's a matter of technique.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I think there were 20 sachets. It's a prank video, he smashes them until they're like powder. I guess "dump" would fit better
    OK, that's a very unusual context, and not at all typical of general usage. I suppose "dump" would work if he's going to throw them away after smashing them. That's a rather different sense of "dump".

    But if it's just describing the action of extracting them from the sachets sequentially, I wouldn't use "dump", because it's a lengthy process, not a single quick action. As RM1 says, it's a matter of technique.

    Ws:)
     
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