hash browns / hash brown

Discussion in 'English Only' started by gloria_taipei, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. gloria_taipei Senior Member

    Taipei
    Taiwan, Chinese
    Hello, everyone!

    The dictionary lists hash browns as plural noun. Does that mean it's always used as hash browns? Can I say a hash brown?
     
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    Yes, it's always "hash browns," like "grits."
     
  3. gloria_taipei Senior Member

    Taipei
    Taiwan, Chinese
    Thank you, bibliolept, for the answer.

    If I want to refer to the singular form, should I say a piece of hash browns?

    I'd also like to know why it's always used as hash browns. What does the plural form mean?
     
  4. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Until the invention of these small puck-like objects at fast food restaurants a piece of hash browns would not make any sense. Hash browns are a conglomeration of shredded potato strips that have been fried in a pan.

    Here is one image of traditional hash browns:

    http://cookingtrainer.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/hashbrowns.jpg

    Here is an image of the new hockey puck style of hash browns:

    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2404/2112892588_a89fb85d05.jpg

    I can imagine ordering "a hash brown" when ordering the hockey puck. Each one is a separate identifiable block. I can't see ordering traditional hash browns in any way but the plural.

    When something is a mixture or agglomeration like this and the plural is used (such as "scrambled eggs") we don't really refer to a portion of the mixture as a piece. You could have a portion of scrambled eggs or hash browns or a serving of either, but not a piece of either.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2008
  5. gloria_taipei Senior Member

    Taipei
    Taiwan, Chinese
    Thank you, JamesM, for the detailed explanation. Now it makes sense to me.

    Traditional hash browns look tasty. I might try to make them next time I feel like having potatoes. :)
     
  6. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    Minneapolis
    USA English
    I got in this a little late. To some degree, it is possible to order some hash browns in the singular. First, order a couple eggs, some bacon, coffee and toast. Then, usually as an after thought, " . . . and give me a side of hash browns." THE COOK "Only a side?" CUSTOMER "Yes, only a side." A side will likely be nothing less than what James says it will be; a complete order of the plural hash browns. Some eating places might serve less than a full order as "a side." Seldom, if ever, will youi hear "side of hash browns" in the kitchern of somebody's home where it is always hash browns.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2008
  7. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    "Hash browns" is a corrupted shorthand reference to "hashed browned potatoes." Pedantic speakers, such as myself, insist on writing it "hashed browns" rather than succumb to what I call the "disappearing 'ed' syndrome, e.g. "whip cream," "can goods," etc.

    "Hashed browns" since it already refers to a plural cannot be further pluralized.
     
  8. gloria_taipei Senior Member

    Taipei
    Taiwan, Chinese
    Hi, Harry Batt. It's not too late yet. But I have difficulty understanding what you said. I'll have to read it a few times more.

    Thanks to sdgraham for the input as well. I feel the same way.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2008

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