soup that eats like a meal

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nwon

Senior Member
Inglés canadiense
I saw a commercial on TV in which the catchphrase was 'The soup that eats like a meal'. This use of the verb struck me as particularly odd. Does anybody have any other examples of this?
 
  • Wildcat1

    Senior Member
    Amer. English
    Normally what is eaten is the object of transitive verb "eat"; here "eat" is intransitive and what is eaten is put in subject position. In this regard I think "eat" is following a pattern seen in other verbs in English. For ex., "I load the gun" but also "This gun loads easily"; "I drive the truck" but also "This truck drives like a car".
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    This is a fairly unique phrase created for Campbell's Chunky line of ready-to-serve soups. If you Google "that eats like a", you will find that nearly all the results are for this phrase or slight variations that were inspired by this phrase.

    Grammarians may hate it, but bloggers seem to eat it up. My point being that you probably won't find other examples; one that I saw in those results was "a fish that eats like a horse," but here you obvious have an animal that can eat, unlike a soup.

    Be thankful that the "soup" version is one of a kind. :)
     

    nwon

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    Normally what is eaten is the object of transitive verb "eat"; here "eat" is intransitive and what is eaten is put in subject position. In this regard I think "eat" is following a pattern seen in other verbs in English. For ex., "I load the gun" but also "This gun loads easily"; "I drive the truck" but also "This truck drives like a car".
    Thank you for explaining it. I guess it's more common than I realized; I had just not heard it with that particular verb, I suppose.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't think it's that unusual. Off the top of my head I can think of two: 'it reads like a book' and 'it spreads like butter' and 'they charge like a rhino'. Okay, so that's three, but the last one's slightly different. I'm sure there's a term for this device, but I've long forgotten it.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I thought the concern was "eats" because of the rarity of that phrase, but if you don't care about the verb and are just looking for this construction -- "that * like a" -- then you'll find plenty of them on that Google search link.

    With "eats," it's virtually non-existent outside the original "soup" example -- what makes it odd, of course, is that soups don't eat.
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I don't think it's that unusual. Off the top of my head I can think of two: 'it reads like a book' and 'it spreads like butter' and 'they charge like a rhino'. Okay, so that's three, but the last one's slightly different. I'm sure there's a term for this device, but I've long forgotten it.
    You might be thinking of the "middle voice" (a WR thread) (in quotes as not all accept the term).
     

    Wildcat1

    Senior Member
    Amer. English
    I thought the concern was "eats" because of the rarity of that phrase, but if you don't care about the verb and are just looking for this construction -- "that * like a" -- then you'll find plenty of them on that Google search link. It's called a comparison. :)
    I don't think it was the comparative nature of the sentence that caught the OP's attention. It was clearly the intransitive use of a normally transitive verb, with the normal object in subject position, that was of interest. So the OP didn't care about the verb (would've asked the same question about "This juice drinks like wine"), but wasn't asking about the comparison (would've asked the same question about "The soup eats well").
    what makes it odd, of course, is that soups don't eat.
    That's the point I was addressing in my post above: guns don't load and trucks don't drive, yet we use these verbs this way.
     
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    Wildcat1

    Senior Member
    Amer. English
    Another example of this intransitive use of a normally transitive verb with the normal object in subject position:

    From a magazine subscription ad (US):
    "Your first issue usually mails within four weeks after we receive your order."
     
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