Let us break bread(s?) together
July 19, 2010 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Is the plural of a variety of bread, "breads" or does it remain bread? "I scale, mix and bake various breads from scratch for a busy café and catering orders."
posted by wocka wocka wocka to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
"bread" = multiple loaves
"breads" = multiple recipes
posted by rhizome at 6:20 PM on July 19, 2010 [8 favorites]

As evidence for rhizome's answer, consider the results of searching for "variety of breads."
posted by jedicus at 6:21 PM on July 19, 2010

"Breads" is appropriate when you are talking about a variety/different kinds of bread as opposed to multiple loaves.
posted by halogen at 6:22 PM on July 19, 2010

Without looking it up, I'd say "breads" is right. My rule of thumb is that you can turn a mass noun into a count noun by adding an "s" and using this to mean many varieties of the thing.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:22 PM on July 19, 2010

Technically correct may not be the right goal. Consider a reader of the sentence who is unfamiliar with that plural usage. Will their opinion of the author be diminished by what seems to be a clumsy, incorrect construct? Perhaps the best wording in this situation is "types of bread" which is wordy but easily encompassed by today's sadly limited common vernacular.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:32 PM on July 19, 2010

For the greatest clarity, which what I believe a person should aim for in communication, I would use "varieties of bread", "types of bread", "bread recipes" or "bread loaves".
posted by elephantday at 6:42 PM on July 19, 2010

I don't think that "breads" is clumsy at all in this sentence. I have absolutely no problem understanding it, and doubt that many other fluent English speakers would have trouble understanding it either.

"Bread" functions like many other mass (or collective) nouns: You can use a plural when you're referring to multiple kinds of bread. Compare it to nouns like "metal," which is also a mass noun. A jeweler might say that a piece contains "two precious metals, silver and gold," and a baker might say he has "two favorite breads, sourdough and rye." Or whatever. This isn't a funky exception; it's a normal pluralization pattern in English.

I honestly think that the objection has more to do with understanding that these types of nouns don't *normally* have a plural, and then over-generalizing that.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:08 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:41 PM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

+1 for breads. Personally, though, I'd go with several varieties of bread over various breads.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:04 PM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Agree with Kutsuwamushi. "Breads" does not sound incorrect or stilted at all to my ear. And I hate the idea that we should jettison entire forms of usage just because some WRONG asshole with a tendency to hypercorrect might write an irate letter to the editor about it, or whatever.
posted by Sara C. at 8:11 PM on July 19, 2010

Consider a reader of the sentence who is unfamiliar with that plural usage.

That reader deserves to go without bread. I might slightly prefer "a variety of breads" over "various breads", though it's much of a muchness.
posted by holgate at 8:25 PM on July 19, 2010

If anyone should have to dumb down the use of "breads," it shouldn't be the baker.
posted by Anitanola at 1:15 AM on July 20, 2010

« Older Know any non-fiction works on the end of American...   |   A huckleberry over my persimmon. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.