Kevin Thornton

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Marta Asks : Fishes is the plural of fish! Right?

 
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Kevin Says:

Hey Marta, 

This was a really interesting topic to review. Your friend is not incorrect, “fishes” can indeed be used when discussing species of fish.  However the most appropriate use for the plural “fishes” is in biology or sciences. 

For example; if you were to go to a fishmonger (like a butcher for fish) you would ask which fish does he have available.
Or "Which fish, of all your fish, would you recommend?”

When speaking scientifically, you would reference the species: here is an extract from Natioinal Geographic
"Perch and bass are two fishes hunted for sport in the American MidwestFortunately, perceptions of these ancient fishes are slowly changing, as new research and renewed interest from anglers are garnering a more positive image of these misunderstood fishes."

Personally, even in the example above I would refrain from using fishes becauseit sounds so archaic (old) I’d prefer to hear, or read:

"Perch and bass are two types of fish which are hunted for sport in the American Midwest. Fortunately, perceptions of these ancient species of fish are slowly changing, as new research and renewed interest from anglers are garnering a more positive image of these misunderstood species."

Rule: Fish is Good (when in doubt, just say fish)

As a noun:

  • Adelle saw a group of fish swimming in the pond. Robert has a pet fish named the Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Let’s eat fish for dinner.
  • Tens of thousands of dead fish have closed Barcelona beaches causing distress to residents and tourists.  

 

Exception: the only time it is appropriate to use the word “fishes” is as a verb. 

  • “My father goes fishing every Sunday.  He always fishes with his friend Rob.” 
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