salmon, tuna or other active, migrating <fish / fishes>

joannaz

Member
Chinese-Mandarin
'In the wild, salmon, tuna or other active, migrating fish get a lot of exercise. But when these fish are raised in captivity, without predators or the need to fight their way upstream against the current, they turn into fish couch-potatoes.'

I read that when there are multiple species, we shall use 'fishes' instead of fish?
 
Last edited:
  • Smauler

    Senior Member
    British English
    Not really. "Fish" is almost always the plural.

    Fishermen catch loads of different species of fish, and they bring all those fish on board. They will separate those fish by species into different places, and throw back what they can't keep.
     

    Copperknickers

    Senior Member
    Scotland - Scots and English
    'In the wild, salmon, tuna or other active, migrating fish get a lot of exercise. But when these fish are raised in captivity, without predators or the need to fight their way upstream against the current, they turn into fish couch-potatoes.'

    I read that when there are multiple species, we shall use 'fishes' instead of fish?
    Yes, that's correct. A large tuna and a small tuna are 'fish', since they're the same species, but tuna and salmon are 'fishes', because they are different species.

    But this is not a well known distinction among English speakers who are not familiar with zoology, the only reason I know it is because my father is a zoologist who specialises in fish. It's the same distinction as that made between 'people' and 'peoples'.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Not really. "Fish" is almost always the plural.
    Quite true in normal usage. Ichthyologists do refer to "fishes" as in the Wikipedia entry.

    "Ichthyology (from Greek: ἰχθύς, ikhthus, "fish"; and λόγος, logos, "study") is the branch of zoology devoted to the study of fishes."

    Most of us who spend inordinate amounts of time and money trying to catch the creatures, however, usually just call them "fish."

    For example, see HERE

    "Salmon and steelhead are anadromous fish, meaning that they are born in freshwater, migrate to the ocean to mature and then return to rivers to spawn, and, in the case of most salmon, die. "
     

    nazrhyn

    Member
    English - US
    "fish" is a Mass Noun. To corroborate what copperknickers said:

    Wikipedia: Mass Noun said:
    Some mass nouns can be used in English in the plural to mean "more than one instance (or example) of a certain sort of entity"—for example, "Many cleaning agents today are technically not soaps, but detergents." In such cases they no longer play the role of mass nouns, but (syntactically) they are treated as count nouns.
     

    nazrhyn

    Member
    English - US
    At least I stopped confusing "Collective Noun" with "Mass Noun" about 5 years ago.

    One interesting thing is that with some Mass Nouns you can say "a ____", like "A fish." With others, like "sand", you can't say "a sand". We have to have another word that can be used to describe one (practically) indivisible element of the mass, like "a grain of sand" or "a piece of food".
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top