Every week I demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the word intended. Usually, this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence and sometimes it sounds amusing, other times it sounds embarrassing. Unfortunately, the mistake is so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television.
Fruit / Fruits
This one came to me today when I was editing some articles for a client and the client used one instance (fruits) when I was convinced it should be “fruit”. I wondered whether it was an American thing such as “New Year” vs “New Years”, “Math” vs “Maths” or “write me” vs “write to me”. I checked, and there is a subtle difference in how they should be used.
Fruit is clearly singular, but if you are talking general plural issues, such as in this case: The NHS recommends people eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, then fruit is right to be used as a plural too.
You would use fruits when you are using collections of groups, rather than mere plurals. This example is the best demonstration of this: My favourite fruits are bananas, strawberries and pineapples.