What is the Plural of 'Fish'?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on October 28, 2022

Writing the plural form of ‘fish’ often confuses new English speakers and experienced writers. The plural form of ‘fish’ is ‘fish’, in most cases. However, there are times when it is appropriate to describe more than one species of ‘fish’ as ‘fishes.’ 

To learn the proper plural form of ‘fish’ in the context of your use, keep reading. In this guide, you will learn why the plural form of ‘fish’ is ‘fish’ when using ‘fishes’, and other examples of other words that do not change in plural noun form. 

Is ‘Fish’ the Plural Form of ‘Fish’?

In nearly all cases, the plural form of ‘fish’ is ‘fish.’ However, there are a few cases when you may refer to multiple ‘fish’ as ‘fishes.’ 

‘Fishes’ is typically a third-person verb, but in certain scenarios, writers may use it as the plural noun form of ‘fish.’

When Do Writers Use ‘Fishes’ Instead of ‘Fish’?

‘Fishes’ is acceptable in some cases, and writers may use the alternate plural form of ‘fish’ for different reasons. However, it is important to know when ‘fishes’ is appropriate before using it. 

Scientific Documents 

The use of ‘fishes’ instead of ‘fish’ is done mostly in scientific texts that describe a variety of ‘fish’ species. However, you can always use ‘fish’ when referring to multiple ‘fish’ no matter the context. 

Poems and Rhymes

Sometimes, writers use ‘fishes’ where ‘fish’ is appropriate because it rhymes or sounds better in the piece. For example, there is an old Italian mafia saying ‘sleeping with the fishes’ made famous in the 1972 gangster movie, ‘The Godfather.' 

You may hear someone say something like: 

  • ‘You won’t be seeing Benny around anymore. He is sleeping with the fishes.’

It implies that the person is dead and doesn’t have the same impact when you say, ‘He is sleeping with the fish.’

‘Sleeping with the fishes’ gives you a sense that the person is amongst many ‘fish.’ To say, ‘he is sleeping with the fish,’ sounds like the person is sleeping with one ‘fish.’ 

A popular saying, ‘if fishes were wishes, we’d all have riches,’ also uses ‘fishes,’ because ‘fishes,’ wishes, and riches rhyme. 

Why is the Plural Form of ‘Fish’, ‘Fish’?

Many English words have the same singular and plural form. Some words follow a different pluralization rule because the English language is a combination of words from different origin languages. 

If the original language does not have a singular and plural version of the word, the English word is often the same. 

Some other similar words include: 

  • Aircraft
  • Moose
  • Mail
  • Police
  • News 
  • Sheep

Examples of ‘Fish’ in a Sentence

Take a look at these examples of how to use ‘fish’ in a sentence as a plural noun: 

  • We all want to eat ‘fish’ for dinner. 
  • Today was a great day for ‘fishing’ because we caught a lot of ‘fish.’
  • ‘Fish’ are quiet pets. 
  • Watching ‘fish’ swim is peaceful. 

Examples of ‘Fishes’ in a Sentence

Now, here are a few sample uses of ‘fishes’ in a sentence as a plural noun: 

  • The students were shocked at all the ‘fishes’ they identified in the pond.
  • If you haven’t seen Johnny, you should know it is because he is taking a nap with the ‘fishes.’
  • There are many deep sea ‘fishes’ that are rarely seen. 

You can also use ‘fishes’ as a third-person verb like:

  • The child ‘fishes’ with her father every weekend.
  • He ‘fishes’ whenever he gets a chance. 
  • When he ‘fishes,’ he is peaceful. 

Final Advise on Writing the Plural of ‘Fish’

You can use ‘fish’ as the plural form of ‘fish’ in nearly any case. Even if you are writing a scientific paper describing many species, you can call them ‘fish’ instead of ‘fishes.’ 

However, not all irregular plural words are so simple. It does not matter if you are a professional writer or someone who has just started writing; you will likely find yourself wondering what the appropriate plural forms of confusing words like cactus, sheep, and moose are from time to time. Bookmarking writingtips.org so you can verify that you are using the proper form of a word is an excellent way to ensure that your writing, whether it is a formal email or a short story written like Hemingway, is accurate.


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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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