A baby communicates by .../Babies communicate by ...

ywf

Senior Member
Mandarin
A baby communicates its needs by crying.
Babies communicate their needs by crying.


A fish lives in water.
Fishes live in water.


I have come across both of the two versions when it comes to referring to common sense/common practice/a common phenomenon etc.. I wounder if there is some difference between them.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The meaning is much the same. Please note that the plural of "fish" is also "fish":
    Fish live in water.
    The fish in my aquarium seem happy.
    The fish in my koi pond were very small when I bought them, but now they are large.
     

    ywf

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you for your prompt reply, GreenWhiteBlue.

    Excuse me, my dictionary just told me that the plural form of fish can either be fish or fishes. It can be fishes when people are referring to various species of fish rather than the amount of fish.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Orange Blossom

    Senior Member
    U.S.A. English
    I have come across both of the two versions when it comes to referring to common sense/common practice/a common phenomenon etc.. I wounder if there is some difference between them.
    I don't see the connection between what you say here and the series of sentences you provided. Just what are you asking?

    Orange Blossom :cherry:
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I believe ywf has noticed that when people are describing general rules about something, they can use either the singular ("A baby communicates....") or the plural ("Babies communicate ...."). The question is, do these differ meaning?

    I agree with GWB that they don't differ in meaning. However, a writer may choose one or the other for stylistic reasons. The singular version may sound more personal: "A baby smiles when it sees its mother." While the plural may sound more 'objective': "Babies smile when they see their mothers."

    [I don't like calling babies 'it' but did so for sake of this example.]
     

    ywf

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you for your explanation, Cagey.
    Also, thank you for clarifying my previously-vague question. Yes, I meant it exactly that way.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top