Dolphins are fish / a fish / fishes.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by magic dragon feeders, Aug 19, 2014.

  1. magic dragon feeders Senior Member

    Japanese
    I'd appreciate it if someone would answer my question. Thanks in advance.
    Which of the following 3 sentences is correct? They are all general ones, meant to say dolphins belong to a fish species.
    A: Dolphins are fish.
    B: Dolphins are a fish.
    C: Dolphins are fishes.
     
  2. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Dolphins are mammals.
     
  3. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    None of them. Dolphins are not fish.
     
  4. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    London
    English - South-East England
    But if they were fish, A and C would be fine ('fishes' is a plural occasionally used, but unchanged plural 'fish' is more common). B is not so good - 'A dolphin is a fish (is a mammal)' is more idiomatic, and has the same meaning as the others.
     
  5. Biffo Senior Member

    England
    English - England
    A: Sharks are fish. :tick: (General statement.)
    B: Sharks are a fish. :cross:
    C: Sharks are fishes. :tick: (Each individual shark is a fish.)
    D. A shark is a fish. :tick: (General statement.)
     
  6. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    Dolphin is also a common name for the fish Coryphaena hippuru, aka mahi-mahi, dorado, dolphinfish.
     
  7. magic dragon feeders Senior Member

    Japanese
    ---Thank you all. Sorry I've miswritten. I forgot to add "not" (→not fish / not fishes).
    You mean "A dolphin isn't a fish." is best, and "Dolphins are fish." is good, and "Dolphins are fishes." is acceptable, don't you?
     
  8. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    "A dolphin isn't a fish" and "Dolphins aren't fish" are both good; "Dolphins aren't fishes" is acceptable.
     
  9. magic dragon feeders Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you Keith.
     
  10. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    To me, "fishes" is not a plurality of creatures, but rather a plurality of kinds of fish.
    I would say "species", but that term has its own singular/plural problems.
    "Dolphins are not classified among the fishes."
     
  11. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    Absolutely. A debate about what is the precise definition of a dolphin has nothing to do with the grammatical question.
     
  12. magic dragon feeders Senior Member

    Japanese
    --Thank you Cenzontle. I think I've ever seen the word "the fishes" in an encyclopedia or something. Is "the fishes" used to classify in terms of bionomy or ecology?
     
  13. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    The word fishes has two areas of usage:

    Archaic/folklore. It is found in the King James version of the Bible (1611) as the plural of fish, e.g. "Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them..." I would also expect it in nursery rhymes and folk songs ("Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy" occurs in the traditional song When The Boat Comes In.)

    Scientific. There are several classes of fish one of which for instance is the Class Osteichthyes (bony fish) which is subdivided intoSubclass Actinopterygii (ray finned fishes) and Subclass Sarcopterygii (fleshy finned fishes).
    See more on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish
     
  14. magic dragon feeders Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you Keith.
     

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