If it's food then it's a lot of chicken. If they're still walking about they get the honour of having a plural form.
No, in general the plural of live chicken is still chicken. Only with a plural number I'd put an s. (E.g., "Oh look, there are some chicken in that field." "Yes, the farmer has thirty chickens."
It's when you are referring to different breeds of them that you say "chickens." (Same thing with fish). https://www.wordhippo.com/what-is/the-plural-of/chicken.html
My solution, "They are chicken," was not accepted. I reported it. Se non correggono la frase sono loro i polli...
I take it that you are not a native English speaker. Native English speakers make a lot of grammatical mistakes, but this is not usually one of them. With animals, "chicken" is singular, "chickens" is plural. With food, we say "I am eating chicken" to refer to the type of meat. But, if we wanted to say how many chickens someone ate, we would count them. "He ate a chicken" for dinner, means he ate one chicken. "He ate two chickens for dinner" obviously means he ate two chickens, not two chicken. The farmer has cows, pigs, horses, dogs, cats, ducks, turkeys, and chickens in his field, however, he does not have oxen, geese, or sheep (the exceptions).
In English many such words have both a singular and plural form.
The plural form is used when one wishes to express a specific idea. For example, "We have many chickens in our backyard." The singular form that does not have a plural form, is used for a general idea. Such as: "Tonight we ate chicken."
In this case, I assumed it to be: "They are chicken," much like you'd say: "They are human." Referring to the species, not the individuals collectively.
Wow, I never thought I'd have to contemplate the singularity/plurality of chicken in my native language.
well, I'm not sure, but at least it is peculiar that Austrians as well as German people learn that the plural form of chicken is chicken. I don't say that chickens is wrong. I'm sure this form is right. But there must be a reason why all German speaking people learn the other form at school. I've found a discussion on Austrian page (http://www.gutefrage.net/frage/der-plural-von-chicken-chickens) and it if it's true or not but it makes sense. Here they say (translated into English): If the birds run around they are called chickens. If you eat them or if they are already dead you use the chicken...so you may ask: can I have some chicken?
The distinction that you guys are all reaching for, I think, is the distinction between mass nouns and count nouns. Count nouns are things about which you ask "how many", whereas mass nouns are things about which you ask "how much." Count nouns are nouns for things that are individuals, for which you don't have to separately specify a unit. "Pencil" for instance is a count noun. It makes sense to ask how many pencils there are. "Gold" on the other hand, is a mass noun. You can ask how much of it there is, but not how many. We don't say "how many golds are there?". And even if you try to ask how much, you have to specify the units. How many ounces, bars, grams, or whatever. "Chicken" is tricky, because it's both a mass and a count noun. When talking about individual birds, it's a count noun. (How many chickens are in the coop?). But when talking about the food, it's a mass noun. (How much chicken do you want?). And mass nouns don't really take plurals. (Grams of gold, not grams of golds.). So the distinction here is not between singular and plural, but between count and mass nouns.
Maybe. I haven't seen a study on which is used more :-) It might depend on discipline (or region?). I encounter the term "mass noun" much more than "collective noun", but, again, it might vary from subcommunity to subcommunity. But, yeah, you're right that some people might be more familiar with the term "collective noun."
Ciao gordon: It is not possible. Please read previous posts. "Chicken" is singular. "Chickens" is plural. It is impossible to say: "I have two chicken". That does not make sense. We must say "I have two chickens". Why do you think "chicken" is plural? Where did you learn that? Grazie
Hi Lisa, We'll have to agree to disagree. In England it quite normal to say "He keeps chicken" meaning "He keeps many chicken". There are a few words for animals/creatures that do not change - fish, sheep, and some more that I can't remember. Thanks for your comments though.
Ciao gordon: OK. I will change my remarks then: In USA, "chicken" is singular; "chickens" is plural. But to this Yank's ear, it surely sounds strange to say "He keeps many chicken"! I would invite any other USA learners to comment. Maybe I just have it wrong. BTW, yes, I know there are other animals which have singular and plural the same: as you said, sheep, fish; others, deer, buffalo, moose, elk, caribou; also, underwear, aircraft, you, scissors (some debate about this one), species. Another one we do not use in USA, but I think you do: stone (as a measurement of weight) one stone, two stone, correct? Also, "head" as in "How many head of cattle do you have?" Any more? CHAU
Hey Gordon, I'm with Lisa on this. Pilfering from a better explanation seen elsewhere, the issue is to do with the animal, vs the product.
The animal will always be either singular or plural, if speaking correctly. However, when referring to the product of chicken - "chicken" that can be eaten or processed, it is never referred to in plural.
Give it some consideration...
Hola undinenstaub: Yes, you can say "Can I have some chicken?" That means can I have some part of the chicken, the leg, the breast, the wing, etc. But "chicken" is not plural. It still is only one chicken. It has nothing to do with dead or alive. However, if you wanted to ask for MORE THAN ONE whole chicken, dead or alive, you could say: "Can I have some chickens?" (plural). That would mean you are asking for MORE THAN ONE whole chicken. In Englisch, sagen Sie "ein Huhn", sondern "zwei Hühner". Sie sind nicht die gleichen Plural und Singular.
I agree. We say "I'm going out to have chicken" because typically you're only eating a few parts of one chicken. If I were to buy a few cornish hens to serve my family I would need to know how many I would need to feed several people. In that instance I would say ”I need 7 chickens.”
No, but it can be used to imply they're naive and gullible, or even an easy target to swindle. In poker slang, pollo is the sucker who is invited to the table so that the others can strip him of his money; to quote Matt Damon in Rounders, "if you can't spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker" (se non riesci a individuare il pollo nella prima mezz'ora di gioco, allora il pollo sei tu). But I digress :P
why can you omit the article here? In my college Italian classes, every time I leave out an article, it is marked incorrect. Is it because this sentence uses a mass noun and the they are not chickens, but things made out of chicken, as in "they (the patties) are chicken" vs the answer to "what are those birds?" which would be "they are chickens." Would this latter be translated as "Sono i polli'?
This sentence does mean they are birds, and that's why it's chickens; "they are (made of) chicken" would be "sono di pollo". If you were to use an article in this sentence it would have to be the partitive: "sono dei polli". But the partitive is not mandatory and it's very often omitted; it's hard to say when though, as it boils down to popular usage rather than grammatical rules. "Sono i polli" would refer to some specific chickens.
I got this exercise as a "type what you hear" exercise, and it sounded like, "sono polle", which is what I typed and was accepted as correct. I thought, is the plural form of "il pollo" really "le polle"? Are they talking about all female chickens? I came here for answers but see that it is supposed to be "sono polli" so now I am confused as to why Duo asked me for "sono polle". Would you ever use "polle" for chickens?