You have been taught that the plural of fish is fish, yet you see fishes and you wonder what the right thing is. Just keep an open mind and continue reading.
Fish can be used both as singular and a plural noun. In the singular form, ‘fish’ is used more as a collective noun.
- Hundreds of fish have died in Mr. Agyare’s pond.
- They are eating fish for lunch.
- There is a lot of fish in the lagoon.
Pluralisation of Fish
The plural form, ‘fish’ is the newer term, though the OED ascertains that it has been in use since at least 1300. Recently, the most common plural form of fish is fish.
The oldest plural of fish is fishes; however, its use in recent times is uncommon and usually idiomatic.
- “Ekow sleeps with the fishes,” Fran said. The idiom, ‘to sleep with the fishes’ means to be killed by a mob and dumped in the water.
- ‘If wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets into the sea.’
- Jesus fed the people with five loaves and two fishes. (A Biblical/historical allusion)
Fishes is also used to refer to different species of fish.
- There are different fishes in the aquarium. (There are different species)
Next time you hear someone say ‘fishes’, do not be quick to perform your grammar Nazi duties. Look out for the context first.