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“Feed” as a Noun

You probably already know that “feed” is a verb in English. (And if you read my last TOEFL Blog post, you definitely know!) But did you know that feed can also be a noun?

“Feed” as a Noun that Means “Food”

toefl noun feed

“Feed” is “food”? Well, that sounds confusing! Don’t worry, though. This is less complicated then you think. In most cases, you can’t substitute “feed” for “food” in English. So usually, you don’t have to worry which of these two similar words you should use. There’s just one case where “feed” and “food” mean the same thing. “Feed” only means “food” when both of the following things are true:

  • (A) The food that’s being discussed is manufactured food. (Food that is created in a factory or made from a recipe.)
  • (B) The food is eaten by animals that are being kept for business purposes (farm animals, animals for sale in a pet store, laboratory animals, etc.).

Understanding this noun form of feed is especially important on the TOEFL. ETS’s team of TOEFL writers seem to love writing about animals. Not only that, but this use of “feed” is especially common in academic science passages and lectures about animals… the very kind you see on the TOEFL exam!

“Feed” as a Noun that Refers to Information

toefl noun feed

Do you like Facebook? Given the popularity of Magoosh’s Facebook page, I bet you do! And if even if you’re not on FB, there’s a good chance you’re on some other social media website, such as Instagram, Twitter, VK, Weibo, etc…. This, my online friend, brings me to another meaning of the noun “feed.” The information you see on your social network is called a feed.

In a broader sense, a “feed” is an electronic service that gives people new information as it becomes available. An online news website that updates often throughout the day is sometimes called a news feed. And stockbrokers carefully watch a feed of changing prices for the stocks that they trade.

Other Nouns with “Feed” as a Root Word

“Feed” can also be part of other nouns. A “feeder” can mean an animal that eats something. For example, catfish are bottom feeders that eat waste at the bottom of rivers and lakes. A “feeder” can also refer to a device that provides food to animals, such as a bird feeder:

Then there’s “feeding,” which can refer to an activity where food is given to a person or animal. For example, I sometimes tell my friends I can’t talk to them because I have to go and take care of “the feeding of my son.” (Giving my young child breakfast, lunch, dinner, or maybe a snack.)

When you use these variations on “feed,” be careful! It’s very easy to mix up the words “feed,” “feeder,” and “feeding.” But if you say or write these words incorrectly, the results can be confusing. That kind of mix-up can definitely cost you points on the TOEFL!

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