I use the word bunch a lot to talk about a lot of something.
But, I typically call a group of bananas “some bananas”, rather than a bunch of bananas.
However, in English certain types of things have a specific name for a group of them such as animals have specific names.
So, I was curious about the grammatically correct way to refer to more than a few bananas.
The reason that a bunch is more than 3 bananas is that 2 to 3 bananas is typically called ‘a few bananas’.
Whereas, a single banana is just called a banana.
Sometimes, a group of bananas is called a hand, and there are also some other descriptive words used to describe bananas such as a comb.
In this article, I will explain the different words used to describe individual bananas, groups of bananas, and what words are used commonly to describe bananas in an academic setting and in everyday use.
Why Is a Bunch of Bananas Called a Hand?
A bunch of bananas is sometimes called a hand of bananas. It seems like a bit of a funny word to use, so I’m interested in why it’s called that…
Typically bananas are sold in a bunch of 8.
There are 3 or 4 bananas side by side and another 3 or 4 bananas underneath that.
And all of them are connected to the same main stem.
If you rest your hand on your knee in a natural way it looks very similar to how a bunch – or hand – of bananas looks when you place it on say your kitchen bench.
Whether your hand or the hand of bananas are palm up or palm down!
The main difference between a hand of bananas and your hand is that the part of a hand of bananas where each of the individual bananas connects to is a lot narrower than the knuckles of a hand.
It’s important to note that when talking normally at a fruit and veg store or at the supermarket sometimes people will use the word bunch instead of the word hand.
Because in everyday speech people rarely use the word hand to refer to a group of bananas.
What people call groups of bananas in everyday speech?
In everyday speech though, most people will just say ‘some bananas’. You may say “do you want to get some bananas?”.
And the response would say something like “yes, how many should we get.”
The general answer is a number – say 5 or 10 bananas.
In everyday speech, it is not typical for a person to reply with “a bunch” or “a hand”.
But, you could say ‘can you grab me 1 bunch of bananas?.
They still might be confused and ask how many you want to get.
The distinction between a hand of bananas and a bunch of bananas becomes important at a banana plantation.
At a banana plantation to get your message across clearly it’s important to use different words for a hand of bananas and for the whole stalk that contains many different hands or bunches of bananas.
As it’s relevant to the way that bananas are harvested.
When bananas are harvested most people will cut the stem using a machete from the very top while they hold the banana in one arm.
Some people also hold the banana from the bottom as they cut it and allow the top of the stem to fall sideways and bounce gently on the ground.
After that the bananas can be transported as one big stem, or they can be further cut into hands of bananas.
Which are also sometimes called bunches of bananas.
So, if people are breaking down a stalk of bananas into individual hands or bunches, you would need to use different words, otherwise the people you’re with will get confused.
Is a Comb of Bananas Correct?
I’ve heard the term comb used to talk about a bunch of bananas.
But, I was curious about whether it’s grammatically correct to say or write “a comb of bananas” to mean a bunch or group of bananas.
It’s unclear where in the world people say a comb of bananas instead of a bunch.
But, in my opinion, it’s easy to see how it could catch on.
Once, the boss or manager at a plantation starts calling a bunch of bananas a comb, then all of the employees would start calling it a comb as well.
But, when they go to another city, or another country and say a comb of bananas people wouldn’t know what they mean.
As you may know, people use different slang in different parts of a country and different parts of a city.
For example, where I live people in the south of the city pronounce the ‘th’ in words as an ‘f’.
Instead of saying the word ‘with’ they would say ‘wif’. And instead of ‘thing’, they would say ‘fing’.
However, in the north and in certain other parts of the country very few people use an ‘f’ instead of ‘th’.
Therefore, comb is very localized and a native English speaker will virtually always refer to more than one banana as a ‘a few bananas’ or a ‘bunch of bananas’.
Interestingly, as a native English speaker I can also say that I have never heard anyone refer to a bunch of bananas as a hand of bananas in everyday speech.
However, in scientific or academic settings a hand of bananas is used to refer to the distinct clusters of bananas that can be separated from the stalk and are all attached together.