Saturday, September 24, 2016

Interesting words: Eat, drink, have, take: What we do with consumables

What verbs do we use for stuff that we put in our mouth and swallow?

We eat food, we drink liquid.  That seems straightforward enough.  But ... maybe not.  On Quora, someone asked whether we eat or drink honey.  Neil Higham gave an interesting answer (you can read it here) mentioning that if you use a utensil to get it to your mouth, you eat it.We eat soup from a bowl. But we drink soup from a mug because you use a spoon with a bowl but not with a mug. 

But ... not quite complete.  Because the verb we would use for "honey" (or other things) depends on both why we consumed it and what we consumed it with.

If you consumed a spoonful of honey because of a sore throat, you would probably say that you "took" the honey; we certainly say this about medicine, whether it is liquid or solid.  "I took some NyQuil"  "I took some aspirin" - not "I drank some NyQuil" or "I ate some aspirin".

But, usually, we don't consume honey on its own, we put it on or in things and the verb we use depends on whether the main ingredient is liquid or solid:  "I drank some tea with honey" but "I ate some bread and honey".

Then there's "have", the most general verb of all. 

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