'The potato is not a fruit'

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taraa

Senior Member
Persian
In #1, 'no' is being used in the same way as 'zero' (see dojibear's comments above): There are zero eggs in the fridge.

It doesn't work in #2: A potato is zero fruit. :confused::cross:

The natural, idiomatic, and correct version of #2 would be: 'The potato is not a fruit'.
Why did you use "the potato" not "a potato"?
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    We sometimes use "the potato" as a way to say "all potatoes", taraa. That's a common convention in written English: The elephant is a mighty beast = All elephants are mighty beasts.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    We sometimes use "the potato" as a way to say "all potatoes", taraa. That's a common convention in written English: The elephant is a mighty beast = All elephants are mighty beasts.
    "I ate the potato", how do you know I mean that I ate a potato or I ate that potato?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Because you don't say "I ate the potato" unless you already know which potato (e.g. "There was one cold potato in the fridge; I was hungry, so I ate the potato") or if you're just about to explain which potato (e.g. "I ate the potato that you left on your plate").
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    But I wanted to say "I ate the potato" in general, not a specific potato in the fridge. is it right like hyperto?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    But I wanted to say "I ate the potato" in general, not a specific potato in the fridge. is it right like hyperto?
    "The" is called the definite article for a reason. "The potato" with no other qualifiers is a definite (specific) potato or the definite (specific) class of all potatoes.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Why hypersto could say "'The potato is not a fruit'." but I can't say "I ate the potato."?
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    But I wanted to say "I ate the potato" in general...
    There were some carrots and some mashed potato on my plate. I ate the potato.:tick:
    On my diet last month, I ate the potato.:tick:

    Why hypersto could say "'The potato is not a fruit'." but I can't say "I ate the potato."?
    The potato is not a fruit = the genus Solanum tuberosum produces an underground tuber which is not the fruiting body, and is eaten as a savoury dish, not as a dessert fruit.

    You personally don't eat the whole genus Solanum tuberosum, just a few hundred grammes of it at a time! But you can of course say "I ate the potato" in cases like those I mentioned in #5.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    What about this? Is it like "the potato is not a fruit."?
    "I hate the potato"
    I see where you get that logically, but it's odd to say that you hate the species.
    I hate potatoes. You hate potatoes as a food. You don't hate the potato as a species or as a type of tuber.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    But this violates any rule about articles :confused::confused::confused:
    Is this odd?
    "I hate the mouse."
    There are no rules; there are only guidelines. Languages are not logical in a mathematical way. What works for one word cannot be automatically applied to another.

    If you mean "I hate mice.", it's odd.
    If you mean "I hate the specific mouse that we are talking about.", it's perfect.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I hate potatoes.
    I hate computer mice. (though I never say "computer mouse" or "computer mice.")
    The spider is an insect. I hate spiders. :tick: I hate the spider. :cross:
     
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    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    I don't think the fact it is an invention (like any machine is) matters at all. You don't say "I hate the..." or "I love the..." to talk about things in general in English. That doesn't fall under the definition of the definite article.

    "I hate the computer" or "I really like the phone" would be understood as references to specific, personal devices.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    ..."I hate the computer" or "I really like the phone" would be understood as references to specific, personal devices.
    Not at all. "I like the telephone... I hate the car..." would be understood as references to that invention in all its forms. Woul it be more common than "I like telephones... I hate cars..."? Possibly, preferences vary rapidly according to Google Ngram Viewer
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    I hate potatoes.
    I hate computer mice. (though I never say "computer mouse" or "computer mice.")
    The spider is an insect. I hate spiders. :tick: I hate the spider. :cross:
    I meant mice.
    Thank you very much, but it's very difficult.
    Not at all. "I like the telephone... I hate the car..." would be understood as references to that invention in all its forms. Woul it be more common than
    Thank you very much.
     
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