cod and skate or cods and skates


Senior Member
Chinese - China
Oil rigs have to be repaired frequently and divers, who often have to work in darkness a hundred feet under water, have been frightened out of wits by giant fish bumping into them as they work. Now they have had special cages made to protect them from these monsters. The fish are not sharks or killer whales, but favourite eating varieties like cod and skate which grow to unusual sizes, sometimes as much as twelve feet in length.

(New Concept English 2, Longman)

I wonder if if ‘cod’ and ’skate’ should be ‘cods’ and ’skates’.

Thanks a lot in advance.
  • brian&me

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks, Hermione.

    But the author uses 'sharks or killer whales' in the same sentence.


    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    Thanks, Keith.
    I've read that thread.
    People say when we talk about the meat of fish, fish is uncountable. But when we talk about the live fish, fish is countable. I think in the OP, that 'cod' and 'skate' refer to live fish. I looked them up again and found: cod, pl. cod; skate, pl. skate or skates. So, in the OP, I think they are in their plural forms. Do you think so?


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    There are two things here. There's the difference between countable animals and their non-countable meat:

    There are many chickens in the yard. I ate some chicken / a piece of chicken.

    Fish meat is treated the same as bird or mammal meat: a piece of chicken/cod/beef.

    But the countable animals can have a zero plural when they're common fish:

    We were surrounded by many cod / skate / carp / gourami / minnows / sharks.

    I suspect the reason we say 'sharks' is that even one shark is bad news: two or more is worse. But if only one cod or carp was nearby, it wouldn't matter; when we're surrounded we think of them in masses, collectively. (And I added minnows because this doesn't explain that - I don't know why minnows or sardines are plural - perhaps because we eat multiple whole ones, not part of them.)


    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't know why minnows or sardines are plural
    And "cod" and "skate" aren't? But they are plurals.

    The fishing trip saw the anglers land 6 bass, 24 mackerel, a dozen sole, 5 skate and, unusually, 2 cod. George and Fred agreed over most things, but they argued over whether they had caught 2 gilt-headed bream or 2 gilt-headed breams. They weren't trying to catch sharks. They saw a pod of dolphins and two whales.

    The plurals of some of these sea creatures are uninflected in that text.

    PS I don't think bream are uncommon fish, but I've heard both bream and breams used. And dolphins and basking sharks are both common and non-threatening. :)
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