I have an orange juice.

3
votes

No, this is quite outrageous!! How dare he! Mex corrected my post!! grrrrrrrrrrr mad angry hmmm shock

LOL

Well, as his version does sound perfect, I have added the suggestions here. However, I would like to hear your opinion, does

I have an orange juice.

Sound incorrect , unusual...you would not ever say that...?

16882 views
updated ABR 18, 2010
posted by 00494d19
By the way. Who is Mex?
jajajja Good question chaparrito!!!
Pues se ve que no ha querido ir a la dunce corner, jeje, en fin, le mandé un PM para venir a reirse con nosotros, pero en fin, lo mismo no le ha hecho gracia-
yupeeeeeeee, Mex is here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What on earth would you call "un jugo de naranja" if not "an orange juice" ??
It is "assumed" that it is in a glass. the same applies to "having a coffee! in a cup.

33 Answers

8
votes

from Heidita's original post:

On Mondays I get up early and eat a banana. I also have orange juice.

This sounds perfect to me. I think of Pepa eating a banana and drinking orange juice.

On Mondays I get up early and eat a banana. I also have an orange juice.

To me, this sounds perfect also. I think of Pepa eating a banana and having orange juice. I have to admit that using "an" does suggest the image of a container (i.e., cup, carton, bottle, etc.) I believe the "an" implies the unspoken container since it basically quantifies the orange juice as one unit, thus "an" as opposed to "some". The same would be true of coffee: "I also have coffee" or "I also have a coffee". Both are correct, one just implies a fixed but undefined amount.

So really whether you use "an" in your sentence Heidita is just a matter of the writing style. I don't think one is better or worse than the other.

updated ABR 18, 2010
posted by chaparrito
I could not agree more!
Right on!
spot on chaparrito!
Gracias, chappi, cada vez acorto más tu nombre, jejeje, es que chappi es más cariñoso:P
Estoy totalmente de acuerdo. Bien dicho.
i agree conversationally, but not in scholastic writing
2
votes

I, for one, was glad to see MexGuy's response because there are always two sides to a story. (I figured that Heidita had been over-reacting, in her own, sweet, emoticon way. wink He probably didn't know what he was getting into by offering to correct her. But to be fair, she probably deserved it. Don't we all need a reality-check once in a while? tongue rolleye) So I found his response reasonable and well thought out. However I wanted to add just one more thought, because I felt that throughout this 'discussion' we were not comparing "apples to apples."

What I mean is that at times there may be a difference between "grammatically accurate" and "accepted usage". With any topic there can be debates about each one of those aspects. (The "What vs. Which" debate is another example.) But what seemed to happen in this thread was kind of like the following argument:

  • Person A: The tomato is a vegetable!
  • Person B: No! It is red!
  • Person A: No! It is a vegetable! Here is proof...
  • Person B: No! It is red! Here is how I know...
  • etc... smile

So while some of us were offering proof that "an orange juice" does not follow proper grammatical construction, others were offering evidence that "an orange juice" is widely used. I don't believe those two points of view are mutually exclusive. In fact I think a forum like this is the perfect place to highlight both of those aspects of language. Although I do think it is proper to emphasize the difference between "accurate" and "acceptable" where there is a conflict.

So is "an orange juice" accurate? No; mass-nouns and all that. It just doesn't work that way in English. But have I heard it? Yeah. Would I use it? In the right setting, Yes.

And even regarding this:

In some languages, it makes sense to sit in a restaurant with a friend and ask for waters (and get two glasses of water) — something that would sound quite peculiar in English

If I were teaching a class of "English as a Second Language" I would be sure to mention that "water" is a mass noun and you can't have 'two waters', strictly speaking. But if I was in a restaurant and I heard:

  • Waiter: What'll you have to drink?
  • me: Water, please.
  • wife: Same here.
  • Waiter: OK, two waters. I'll be right back.

...I certainly wouldn't find it peculiar in the slightest. grin

updated FEB 26, 2010
edited by chaparrito
posted by chaparrito
Good Summary Chaparitto. No problems here. Muchas Gracias. Case Closed.
The same happens in Spanish chaparrito... but Mex is right... it's grammatically incorrect... in English AND in Spanish :)
2
votes

Alright, let's see where we are at on the earth-shaking debate about "an orange juice". I went through all the posts in order of appearance and tallied the 'votes' from native English speakers to see the conglomerate opinion. Here's the stats:

OK to use it:

  1. adrob76 UK
  2. ray76 Australia
  3. yesero USA
  4. chaparrito USA
  5. Nicole-Bailey USA
  6. Eddy UK
  7. MeEncantanCarasSonrisas USA

Don't use it:

  1. hlsbookworm USA
  2. dogbert USA
  3. hyrumt USA(?)

Unclear opinion:

  1. CalvoViejo USA

So according to my analysis, if you say "I have an orange juice" then you have a 30% chance of being ridiculed. tongue wink (And apparently only in the USA...)

Incidentally, here is something I recently overheard at a popular fast-food restaurant. Obviously not an authoritative source of grammar use, but definitely a sample from the proverbial 'man-on-the-street'. grin

"OK, so that'll be two orange juices, a coffee and a water?" wink

updated FEB 26, 2010
edited by chaparrito
posted by chaparrito
2
votes

Hello…..this is Mex. I’ve just returned from being out of the office and see that my suggested corrections to Heidita’s translation exercise drew a great deal of attention and criticism. Since this exercise was English to Spanish (and effectively Spanish to English) that will be corrected, I felt the English version should be as correct as possible. Here is my communication to Heidita.

To Heidita Sent Feb 23, 2010 4:29 PM Subject Perhaps a slight correction. Message Heidita, this is from your recently posted translation excercise for Pepa and breakfast. I know it is for translation practice but there are a couple of small gramatical errors. It would not be common in English to use the "a" before the word toast. More common would be if the phrase was "a piece of toast" or "a slice of toast" or in this instance, just "toast". Also, the same concept on using the word "an" before orange juice. OK if you have "an orange" or "a glass of orange juice".

To get to the point, the correct post is that from hisbookworm.

Ok, so, I'm going to answer again, because I don't feel liking editing my entire previous answer. So here it goes. Orange juice is a non count/mass noun. You can't have 1 orange juice, 2 orange juices, 3 orange juices....etc. it's just not right. So The indefinite article "an" can only be used with count nouns, therefore, the statement "I have an orange juice" is incorrect because orange juice is a non count/mass noun. However, with a society that doesn't like rules, most people say whatever they want to say, however they want to say it, so, you will hear people say this, even though it's technically incorrect.The alternate article that could be used would be some. (ex. I have some orange juice) You could also say "I have a glass of orange juice".
hlsbookworm

In English, there are two kinds of nouns: count nouns and non-count nouns. It is important to understand the difference between them, because they often use different articles, and non-count nouns usually have no plural. Here is a summary of the differences:

Count nouns are things which can be counted. That means that there can be more than one of them. Also, when a count noun is singular and indefinite, the article “a/an” is often used with it.

Non-count nouns (or uncounted nouns) are usually things which cannot be counted, such as rice or water. Non-count nouns have a singular form, but when they are indefinite, we either use the word “some” or nothing at all instead of an article. They cannot be used with the indefinite article “a/an” (whose original meaning was “one”), and are frequently used with no article at all. “I have some orange juice.” or just "I have orange juice".

The concept of count versus non-count nouns presents special difficulties for students for whom English is a second language. For one thing, the determination of what nouns are countable and what nouns are non-countable is by no means universal. For instance, although somebody can advise you several times, we can't say they gave me advices, although that would translate quite nicely into several other languages (los consejos) . In English, you say they gave me advice. In some languages, it makes sense to sit in a restaurant with a friend and ask for waters (and get two glasses of water) — something that would sound quite peculiar in English

Just as the native Spanish speakers here correct spelling, accents, article-noun-adjective agreements, etc. to help those of us who visist the site to learn and be as correct as possible in Spanish, the same should be applied in reverse for those who may come here looking for assitance in English.

Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes but I stand by my corrections.

updated FEB 26, 2010
posted by MexGuy
Aaahhh... So you're Mex. Pleasure to meet you. :-)
The masked person unveils himself....nice to meet you too.
Very well articulated, by the way. :-)
jajaja Mex... todo lo que ocasionaste!!! Un gusto...
Ves, Mex, ahora todo el mundo te conoce como aquél que corrigió a Heidita, jejejeje, seguro que se acuerdan!
It was fun.....maybe we can do it again. NOT! :)
pero...no se si me acuerdan por el bueno o el malo.....vamos a ver.
1
vote

Confusion reigns supreme. First of all, this is not a question of grammar (and, thus, it is incorrect to label either version a "grammatical" error. The concern of grammar is the relationship between/among parts of speech (with consideration, where appropriate, to their inflected forms). If your argument/objection depends on the meaning/use of a particular word, you are talking about "usage" not "grammar". Grammar deals with the fundamental relationships between/among parts of speech and the inferences that we can/should make based on the form/position of the words. It makes assertions such as "if the subject is plural, then the verb (assuming it is inflected) should be plural". or "the object of a preposition/verb should be in the objective/accusative case" (again, assuming inflection). Arguments about grammar should always appeal to the general "logic"/"structure" of a language.

Usage, on the other hand, has very little to do with logic. First and foremost, it is concerned with "specific" words/phrases (not their parts of speech but the words, themselves). Unlike grammatical questions, questions of usage are, basically soliciting a popularity pole. Do you (or your friends) say/accept "... " as normal English?

Grammarians are often asked for their opinions about usage (because they are viewed as authorities about language, in general, but usage is not their area of expertise (although they may well have opinions/prejudices).

"I'll have an orange juice/a beer/the duck" are all widely used and understood by any native speaker of English.Such phrases occasion no surprise/doubt (as to their meaning) nor do they sound "unnatural"/"foreign".

If you insist on calling them "ungrammatical". please supply the "grammatical" rule that constitutes the basis for your objection And please note that, since you are objecting to the grammar [not the usage] your objection should be couched in terms of parts of speech (with no reference to the specific words involved).

updated FEB 26, 2010
posted by samdie
"Devotees of grammatical studies have not been distinguished for any very remarkable felicities of expression." -Amos Bronson Alcott ;-)
1
vote

So it is perfectly acceptable to say "I'll have a water, please" or "I want to drink a water" , implying bottled or glassed water?

updated FEB 26, 2010
posted by ihulinsky
In my opinion, yes. Just don't teach that to English learners. ;-) And actually, 'have a water' sounds fine to me whereas 'drink a water' sounds funny to my ears. But then, I do have funny ears. :-D
I agree with Chaparrito. I've never heard "I want to drink a water'' used before. The first one, ''I'll have a water, please'' is much more used.
1
vote

What on earth would you call "un jugo de naranja" if not "an orange juice" ?? - ian-hill 1 hr ago flag

From Span-Amer translation dictionary

Translate text, webpages and documents • Enter text or a webpage URL,

un jugo de naranja
Translate from: Spanish

Translate into: English

• Spanish to English translation •
orange juice

updated FEB 26, 2010
posted by MexGuy
Ouch. The cold logic of it all. Creo que Juluque refería a este cuando nos enseño en su hilo hoy la frase "la verdad amarga". ;-)
1
vote

Ok, so, I'm going to answer again, because I don't feel liking editing my entire previous answer. So here it goes


Orange juice is a non count/mass noun. You can't have 1 orange juice, 2 orange juices, 3 orange juices....etc. it's just not right.

So

The indefinite article "an" can only be used with count nouns, therefore, the statement "I have an orange juice" is incorrect because orange juice is a non count/mass noun


However, with a society that doesn't like rules, most people say whatever they want to say, however they want to say it, so, you will hear people say this, even though it's technically incorrect.

The alternate article that could be used would be some. (ex. I have some orange juice) You could also say "I have a glass of orange juice". grin

updated FEB 24, 2010
posted by hlsbookworm
1
vote

Yet one more confusing opinion...

I think this is colloquial in nature. The way that Heidi originally wrote "an orange juice" sounded grammatically correct. However, to me, it sounded very British or European.

The use of "an" would be exchanged for "some" around here.

"When I wake up, I have a banana and some orange juice."

Who knows, maybe here in Philly we are just not ready to commit that early in the morning. I may have a sip, I may have two glassed. It all depends on how I feel. wink LOL LOL LOL

updated FEB 24, 2010
posted by Nicole-B
1
vote

In English (at least in the US) we buy bread. In Spanish compramos un pan.

So in Spanish bread comes in individual units. In English it doesn't, unless we specify a slice of bread or a loaf of bread.

I think this is the same issue, looking at it from the other direction.

updated FEB 24, 2010
posted by CalvoViejo
Good point.
Yo compro pan.
1
vote

So, I am in a bar and I can say:

I am having an orange juice.

After all it is what I just ordered

but I cannot say the same having the same juice at home? Hmm,

I would say that is incorrect, you can say "Can I have an orange juice" (as was said above) but if I was sitting there with orange juice, I wouldn't say "I'm having an orange juice".

I would consider it being used here:

You have kids somewhere, let's just say for drinks they can get a carton of milk, or a container orange juice. So, one says "I got a milk, what'd you get?" the other might say "I have an orange juice".

So, your really talking about the container of orange juice, not the liquid inside the container. You just end up calling the container: orange juice.

That's the only example I can come up with, even though it's not too good, but hopefully you understand.

So, yes, it's sounds incorrect to me, it sounds unusual to me, and no, I would never personally use it smile

updated FEB 24, 2010
edited by hlsbookworm
posted by hlsbookworm
0
votes

It all depends on the situation. The words "an orange juice" without a glass or container of any kind are perfectly acceptable if someone asks what you have."I have an orange juice". Now I've stated many times before about my lack of grammar knowledge so you know it's not in the rules but this is common, everyday conversational American English. It is also very common to hear someone answer the question "what would you like to drink?" with " I'll have an orange juice, please.". But Heidita, I doubt you would ask, as you stated, for an oranje juice in a bar, jejeje (more like I'm having orange juice and vodka.)

updated FEB 28, 2010
posted by Yeser007
I've never in my life heard someone say: "I have an orange juice."
hyrumt, I"m not surprised coming from a Yankees fan.
0
votes

If you insist on calling them "ungrammatical". please supply the "grammatical" rule that constitutes the basis for your objection And please note that, since you are objecting to the grammar [not the usage] your objection should be couched in terms of parts of speech (with no reference to the specific words involved).

Goggle the following, "use of indefinite articles with nouns" and you can read all the grammatical rules you would like. They all point to the same. The specific parts of speech are "articles and nouns".

but your right....this is getting out of hand so I'm going to go drink a glass or two of beer, eat some peanuts and consider this closed.

updated FEB 26, 2010
posted by MexGuy
0
votes

Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes but I stand by my corrections.

Toes, ??? How dare you step on people's toes angry mad hmmm

This is strictly against the rules!!!!!! mad mad mad mad mad

LOL I thought you had disappeared, Mexwink I don't think you stepped on anybody's toes, not on mine anywaywink

I was interested to see if this could by no means be said and sounded "weird" to a native. I can see by the answers that it does not, even though it might be against the rules, like stepping on people's toes, LOL

updated FEB 26, 2010
posted by 00494d19
We have all learned a lot from this thread!! :)
0
votes

"una tira de pan"

LOL Esto suena divertido, en ESpaña te ganarías caras sorprendidas, jejejeje

Aquí es una barra, o , yesssss, una pistolawink LOL

updated FEB 25, 2010
posted by 00494d19
jajaja me encantan las diferencias!!! Me recuerda a Paquita en Barcelona diciéndome: "coge una carta, coge una carta!!" y mi cara de "Oh-my-God!!!" jajajaja ...you know what I mean ;)
sí, jejej, qué divertido