[open-air market,potatoes] How many/much (do you need)?

cointi

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

I know the rules and I have seen previous threads.

Let's say you are at an open-air market.

-Can I have some potatoes?
-How much?
-A kilo, please.

Now, I know that potatoes are countable, but somehow (perhaps because they are sold by weight, not per item) much seems acceptable to me, if not preferable. What does your life experience say?
 
  • heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    With potatoes I guess this would be, strictly speaking, correct. But in reality, the seller would more likely reply by asking 'A kilo?'.

    Other fruits or vegetables, like oranges, lemons or cabbages, for instance, are usually sold singularly, so it would be 'How many?'

    Having said that, it would be very unusual for a customer to ask for 'some' potatoes, or indeed any fruit or veg. They would typically ask for a specific weight or number. So this conversation wouldn't arise.
     

    cointi

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you!

    Linguistically speaking, I'm guessing that both many and much are possible in this context. Would one of them be much more natural?
     

    Tofail

    Senior Member
    Bangla
    Having said that, it would be very unusual for a customer to ask for 'some' potatoes, or indeed any fruit or veg. They would typically ask for a specific weight or number. So this conversation wouldn't arise.[/QUOTE]

    I agree.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Grammatically 'much' is obviously correct but, to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if the seller asked me 'how many?' in real life:

    Buyer: Oh and I need some potatotes too.
    Seller: Right. How many?
    Buyer: 2 or 3 kilos should be enough.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Having said that, it would be very unusual for a customer to ask for 'some' potatoes, or indeed any fruit or veg. They would typically ask for a specific weight or number. So this conversation wouldn't arise.
    I agree.[/QUOTE]Then I must be some sort of aberration, because, as I explain above, I said "I'd also like some potatoes [in addition to the other vegetables I'd asked for]. (Pause) About five pounds." in the market the other day.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I'm a different type of aberration.
    Here's me at the market:

    Ewie: I'll have a few of those King Edwards. [a type of potato]
    Stallholder: Could you be a bit more specific ... ?
    Ewie: Three or four biggish ones should do.
    Stallholder: Could you define 'biggish' ... ?
    Ewie: I'll just pick them out myself, shall I?

    Seriously, though, I do really buy pretty much everything by number rather than weight, including potatoes.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I follow you, Ewie. It's just that I'm finding it rather difficult to imagine a market stallholder using the word "specific":D.

    Seriously, I think a market stallholder is much more likely to say "How many pounds? or "How many kilos?" than "How many?", because of the different sizes of potatoes.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Seriously, though, I do really buy pretty much everything by number rather than weight, including potatoes.
    Same here. I haven't a clue about grams or kilos. Even when buying something like cheese at the deli, I usually tell the person serving me how thick or thin I want each slice and then the number of slices I think I might need for a specific number of days. :)
     
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