fishes went from the river

Discussion in 'English Only' started by onitamo, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. onitamo

    onitamo Senior Member

    Järna, Sweden
    "fishes went from the river"
    can I say so?

    (description of situation:One day they just moved somewhere else (warned by their inner instinct))
    I know they are swimming not walking :p but I am in doubt if I can say so or not? Thank you for answer.
  2. Schimmelreiter

    Schimmelreiter Senior Member

    Some fish left the river.

    How can they possibly have done so, being fish?
  3. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Fishes went away from the river Drina, in 1985.:tick:

    Fishes left the river Drina, in 1985. [More common]:tick:

    Fishes disappeared from the Drina, in 1985.
    :tick: After all, they may have died, not swum away.

    [ADDED: "Fish" also works in these examples.]

    NOTE: "Went" [like 'go', the present form] has nothing particular to do with walking or even with going by car, train, etc.

    The snakes went down the hole.
    The water went down the drain.
    Once he was wounded, all his blood went from his body.
    All the light went from the cave, once the sun had set.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  4. Schimmelreiter

    Schimmelreiter Senior Member

    Do you mean kinds of fish, given the plural you form?
  5. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    The singular also works, in the collective sense, in my examples.
  6. onitamo

    onitamo Senior Member

    Järna, Sweden
    thank you bennymix:) Nice examples!

    (My) "fishes went away from the rivers" (in Tunguska area 3 days before disaster 1908:)..)
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  7. e2efour

    e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 76)
    UK English
    Rivers contain fish, not fishes.
  8. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    I would not say that fish "went away from" or "left" the river; it just sounds weird.

    Fish have disappeared from the river.
    There are no more fish in the river.
  9. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Given the context, it might make sense, if a natural disaster is looming, to say,
    Fish have fled the XXX river.
  10. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I think Onitamo is asking about the verb rather than about the unusual plural of fish. It's the verb which is in bold type.

    I think also that this is a question about grammar, so probability doesn't come into it.

    In BE, to go from in this sort of context often means to disappear rather than to leave and suggests theft rather than voluntary withdrawal - my cufflinks have gone from my dressing table.

    So I'm going to talk about fish, not fishes, but I'm not going to add words or alter verbs and tenses, because that would be to consider a different case, in my view.

    Could we say 'fish went from the river'? Certainly we could. There might be an agent of some kind removing fish from the river: there are many natural predators of fish - otters, herons, etc.
  11. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Hi, TT; note that I didn't recommend 'go from', but 'go away from' [went away from], and upon hearing more,
    have suggested 'left' or even 'fled'--what animals do, namely *move away from* an area, for example, about to have an earthquake.

    The point is that it's *not* so mysterious as 'disappear' (as in your cufflink example); the choice of verbs *in this context* need not allow
    fates that befall you if you stick around, e.g. for toxic situations or being eaten by predators.
  12. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Hello Bennymix,

    What you point out for me to note now is that you changed the simple verb, 'to go', to the phrasal verb 'to go away'.

    The question seemed to me asking about use of the verb, 'to go', in this context.
  13. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Yes, exactly; I suggested a phrasal alternative since the OP's question about using "Fish went from the river," had been answered by me in post #3 (as it was, later on, by you in post #10) as doesn't work or doesn't apply.

    I wished, as is customary in the forum, to suggest workable alternatives which are close to what a poster was trying to say: in his words "One day they just moved somewhere else (warned by their inner instinct)."

    I have no idea what alternatives you personally would recommend; nor, presumably, does the OP.
  14. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    Hello Bennymix,

    If you look carefully at the two posts which you say both come to the conclusion that the sentence we are being asked about, "Fish went from the river", 'doesn't work or doesn't apply', you will see that of neither is your statement true:

    Your post #3 is noncommittal, while my post #10 contains the following -

    This is why I am insisting that it is not enough to imply that you gave what I regard as an incorrect answer in an earlier post. We are not being asked about phrasal verbs, but about whether we can say 'fish went from the river'.

    I hope you are clear now that I am saying that we can. I wanted Onitamo to know that.
  15. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    TT: about whether we can say 'fish went from the river'.

    I hope you are clear now that I am saying that we can [say that]. I wanted Onitamo to know that. I hope you are clear now that I am saying that we can. I wanted Onitamo to know that.


    Yes, clear. You believe Onitamo can say what he did, and it's good usage, even though it doesn't mean what he says he intended. It applies, as you say, to removal by agents, e.g., blue herons.

    I gather you decline to tell me or Onitamo what you consider to be an appropriate alternative to capture his intended meaning.
  16. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    This is a late addendum/clarification to my post #3, which apparently cannot be edited.

    [ADDED 11/25, at the beginning of post #3:]
    [Onitamo: Your proposal is not satisfactory as regards what I take to be your intended meaning (though it's grammatical): The examples below, are, I think, possibly better in that regard. Fishes went away.... etc.]
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2013
  17. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    If there are more than one species, then "fishes". Otherwise "fish".

    As far as "leaving the river" I don't think that the fish can leave. Where would they go? And how would they get there? I think that they can fail to reproduce and are no longer seen in the river.
  18. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I think that fishes is the plural adopted by people who wish to anthropomorphize fish.

    As in the famous La Fontaine fable often translated as The Jester and the Little Fishes.
  19. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    If you Google "fish/fishes" you will find many sites that make the same distinction that I did. None of the sites I saw had AUTHORITY. The Oxford Learners Dictionary shows "fishes" as archaic. Here's one.

  20. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    I wasn't, of course, saying that the anthropomorphizing usage was the only time we talk of fishes.
  21. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    I really wonder why the moderators are allowing this thread to turn into a discussion of the tired old topic of a plural of fish, namely "fishes" used by the OP and by me in my first attempt (post#3) *at answering his actual question*.

    There seems to be some unwillingness to deal with the OP's basic question, and with the exception of Parla, to propose alternatives that capture the OP's intended meaning. Surely the 'fish' topic is covered in dozens of threads and hundreds of books.

    But, so be it. On fish.

    The normal plural of fish is fish (a shoal of fish; he caught two huge fish). The older form fishes is still used, when referring to different kinds of fish (freshwater fishes of the British Isles).


    plural fish or fishes

    Fish is the usual plural form. The older form, fishes, can be used to refer to different kinds of fish.

    In a discussion of natural disasters and effects on various kinds of fishes, the OP's choice is 'fishes' is defensible, and I followed it in my first, but not later responses.

    OK, guys, let the fishy fun, begin!
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2013
  22. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    As for the OP's "went", I asked "went where?" "Went how?" I don't think that they "went" at all. But simple failed to reappear one year.

    I guess this is fairly common use. When I was a child we had lightning bugs almost every warm night. As an adult they seemed to disappear. We would say, "I wonder where all the lightning bugs went?"

    Of course they didn't "went" at all. The air polution killed them and they didn't return until car exhausts were sufficiently clean that they could again survive. Of course when they reappeared we said, "Oh, the lightning bugs are back. I wonder where they had gone."
  23. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Packard: As [when I was] an adult they [lightning bugs] seemed to disappear. We would say, "I wonder where all the lightning bugs went?"

    Of course they didn't "went" at all. The air polution killed them....

    I'm a little puzzled: In context, is "I wonder where the lightning bugs went?" correct grammar and good usage, etc.? Does it correctly capture your intended meaning? Would it be correct to say, "They have all gone" ? when it's a case of simply dying off? This is not exactly the case of the OP, but it may be worth inquiring into.
  24. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southern England
    English - England
    We have a convention, Bennymix, about quoting other posts. Your posts would be easier to read if you'd follow it.

    I really don't see why fish can't go somewhere. After all they may be migratory fish. Some people write as though they don't know about them.

    The most obvious thing unusual about the sentence in the OP, is, perhaps, the lack of a definite article.

    The fish went from the river (out into the sea, maybe) seems to me unexceptionable.
  25. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I find "fishes went from the river" to be an ordinary sentence fragment. The same sequence of words might even work as a complete sentence, in the right context.

    Can we have more context, and a whole sentence, please?
  26. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    Well, onitamo has already provided a sentence and background:
    It sounds an incredible proposition at first sight (as if fish could have early warning of a meteorite or asteroid crash; as if there were sufficient reliable observation of the rivers in that remote area in those days to establish this prior disappearance as fact; as if fish had anywhere else to go, seeing that freshwater fish are not adapted to the sea, let alone the land, and that any accessible lakes were presumably already populated with fish).

    However, even if the statement is doubtful in factual terms, the language issue remains to be answered.
    Since we are not told where the fish are supposed to have gone, then the way to express the idea in my view is to say, for example:

    'The fish disappeared from the rivers' or 'All fish vanished from the rivers'.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  27. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Hi Wandle,
    I am sure you have your own reasons and path to your conclusion, below. But readers may note that it bears, I think, more than passing resemblance to one of my recommendations of Nov 23. It seems that independently we arrived at the same conclusion for
    one of the possible contexts.

    I agree that the facts of Tunguska may well be in dispute, but movements of fishes are surely not. Since the issue here is not the facts about fish and impending disasters, the words used to describe their movements in a migratory context may be relevant. They may apply to other cases of movement. In the Wiki articles on fish migration and Atlantic salmon* are accounts of fish spending parts of their lives in fresh water and part in the ocean; then returning to freshwater. Leaving aside facts, the verbs are of interest since they indicate movement, the main issue raised by the OP. Posters including yourself, have concentrated on verbs indicating a dying off or being killed off, in place, e.g., TT (post #10):'fish went from the river' , to your The fish disappeared from the rivers.

    As to movement, one sees a number of verbs: migrate, go ... upstream, leave breeding ground, move to areas, and so on.

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  28. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    Not I! As I indicated, I find onitamo's idea that the fish had been warned by an instinct that some such thing as a meteorite strike was on its way and that they had therefore fled the scene three days in advance unconvincing, to say the least: for several reasons.

    Nevertheless, as I also indicated, I answered his question on his terms, not mine. He asked how to express simply the idea that the fish left the rivers. He did not mean in the course of migration or other recognised patterns of movement. His question is not about the familiar activities of salmon, etc.

    Accordingly, my suggestions simply express the idea that the rivers were suddenly, unaccountably, empty of fish.
    There is nothing there that would in any way suggest how or why they had disappeared.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2013
  29. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Thanks for clarifying, Wandle. Verbs that reflect agnosticism as to causes are certainly relevant, which is why I mentioned 'disappear' in my first list of possible, happily formed expressions. :)

    The OP himself did not seem to be so agnostic, in his posts #1 and #6, which is why I proposed some other possibilities

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