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What’s the Plural of Fish?

The plural and singular forms of fish is fish, for the most part. Sometimes, fishes also works as the plural form of fish.

Last updated on February 6th, 2024 at 10:09 pm



What’s the plural of “fish”?

Let’s dive deeper into these proverbial waters, and get a little more textual. Keep reading for the key points on today’s subject topic, “What’s the plural of fish?”

  • The singular and plural of fish is fish (without the “es” at the end).

  • Fishes can be used as a plural to refer to numerous fish species at once; this is more common in scientific contexts. E.g., “most lakes and oceans have all types of fishes, such as, cod, salmon, trout“.
NounSentence examples
singularfishcorrect: I had a tropical pet fish with lots of colours when I was young.

incorrect: The fish in Lake Ignace were not biting over the weekend.
plural
fish (fishes less common)
correct: The Mediterranean diet, which includes fish, has been linked with a lower risk of depression and dementia.

nonstandard: There are many different fishes in our pond.


When is “fishes” the correct plural?

To refer to more than one fish, you say fish. Fishes applies when we want to refer to numerous fish species within the same sentence. To avoid possible confusion, you can stick to fish without the “es”, (it’s correct in all cases).



Sentences using “fish” or “fishes” in the media

Elsewhere on the reef, small cleaner-fishes make their living by plucking parasites and algae from a variety of so-called client fishes who line up to wait their turn.

The New York Times

New research suggests that fish can recognize human faces, putting to bed a previous theory that only animals with large brains, like primates, can accomplish such a complex task.  

CBC

Furthermore, the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fish, has been linked with a lower risk of depression and dementia.

Scientific American


Other example sentences with “fish”

He caught a huge fish!

We are having fish for dinner.

He keeps tropical fish in his aquarium.

“It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”

The Godfather, Mario Puzo.



Other plural nouns

Similar to fish, deer stays the same in both singular and plural forms. Unlike fish, however, it’s standard for deer to be used when referring to numerous types of deer within the deer family, at the same time. The correct plural for moose is moose. Similar to deer and fish, moose does not vary between singular and plural forms. Keep in mind that mooses is incorrect, whereas fishes is not. Deers is not commonly used, though it’s not technically incorrect, and can be used to refer to numerous species within the deer family at once.


Phrases with the word “fish”

PhraseMeaning
as crooked as a barrel of fishto be unprincipled and deceptive
to be a big fish in a small pondsaid of someone that stands out as successful or more experienced because they’re in a small group/business
to be a fish out of waterdescribes someone as uncomfortable in a new environment, or because they’re out of their element
a fish stinks from the head downone who learns from one’s mistakes does not repeat them
only dead fish go with the flowsaying someone is attractive or appealing
to drink like a fisha feigned state of sleep where you’re aware of your surroundings
to fish for complimentsto try and pull a compliment from someone
fish and guests smell after three daysmeaning that you should not overstay your welcome
be neither fish nor fowlsaid of something that’s difficult to categorize or define
to have bigger fish to frymeaning that one has bigger issues to deal with than what’s currently being discussed
to have a memory like a goldfishto have a terrible memory
to be a different kettle of fishsaid of something completely unrelated to the topic at hand
to be a cold fishdescribes someone that comes across as disinterested or unfriendly
teach a man to fish…a clichéd phrase meaning teaching someone sets them up for the future rather than doing it for them
you need to bait the hook to catch the fishyou have to take the necessary steps to get what you want
all is fish that comes to his netsaid of someone that’s able to make use of anything; resourceful

Origin of the word fish

Fish (noun) “a vertebrate which has gills and fins adapting it for living in the water,” derives from Old English and the Proto-Germanic languages.


Read more on plural nouns


Learn about other grammar topics

Sources

  1. “all is fish that comes to his net.” Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. 2015. Farlex, Inc 18 Dec. 2023

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