Fish or Fishes


Senior Member
Hi, guys! I have learnt that fish is singular and plural. Ex: "I ate 2 fish for lunch today." But I can possibly use fishes if I am talking about different spieces of fish. Ex: "The list of endangered species includes nearly 600 fishes." Have I learnt correctly? Thank you all.
  • Lee Sing

    Senior Member
    English from England
    You can speak of various types of fish or fishes.

    According to the New Testament (King James version), Jesus fed the five thousand on five loaves and two fishes.


    Senior Member
    But wouldn't it be old English? Currently, would you use fishes as plural of fish?
    Except when quoting the Bible, "fishes" has a child-like sound to it, in my opinion. It is a "cute" word. Both "fish" and "fishes" are listed as possible plurals in dictionaries, though. I would go with "fish", personally, unless I was talking to a child.


    Senior Member
    1- Fish have different colors.
    2- Fish has different colors.

    or we can say:
    3- Fishes have different colors.

    I go with number2 and number3.

    I am talking about Fishes in general not one fish.


    Senior Member
    They have talked about that in an earlier thread. Maybe it can help you.
    Yes -- I have noticed this. Brits will say Shell Oil are thinking of investing.... where as Americans would say Shell Oil is thinking of investing....

    Even in a prior example given, Americans would tend to say "The class is debating the (whatever they are debating). They don't tend to bother to worry about whethe "the class" is a unit or a group of units.

    The only time Americans as a general group would use the plural is if the word is something like "fish" which can mean one fish or more than one fish.

    The fish is swimming means one fish is swimming, the fish are swimming means more than one fish is swimming.

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    We can never say "fish has" unless we specify that we are talking about one particular fish (the fish has, that fish has, etc.). The plural of "fish" can be "fish" (common) or "fishes" (mostly in scientific contexts, when referring to multiple species).


    Senior Member
    Thanks as I understand I can use both:
    1-Fish has different colors. (one fish)
    2- Fish have different colors.(more than one fish)

    Am I right?


    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    1- Fish have different colors. Count noun, plural. There are thousands of individual creatures of this kind; each one is "a fish"; different ones have different colors.
    2- Fish has different colors. Mass noun, singular. I may serve you a few ounces of fish for dinner; it may be part of one fish, or pieces from several fish, mixed together; within that stuff called "fish", you may find different colors.
    3- Fishes have different colors. Count noun, plural. As The Newt said, these are species of fish. Codfish are one color, haddock another color,...

    (Edited to remove some odd formatting -- JustKate, English Only moderator)
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