Grammar What Is the Plural of Fish? |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

What Is the Plural of Fish?

There might be plenty of fish in the sea, but that doesn’t mean they are all easy to describe. If we’re trying to describe more than one, a common question in English can be what is the plural of fish?

You may have been taught that it’s simply fish or maybe fishes. Both sound like they could be right, but that doesn’t automatically secure the answer. This review will resolve the question so you can use the correct word confidently each time.


How to Understand Fish vs. Fishes in English

In most situations, the plural of fish is still fish. In other words, you don’t necessarily want to add an -es to the end. You may recognize this as the prevailing convention, making the plural word fish very familiar to you. Here are some examples:

I feel like I could eat all the fish in the restaurant.

Dozens of fish came to the surface when we started throwing breadcrumbs.

Before visiting the aquarium, I never knew there were so many different kinds of fish.

So, if you engaged this discussion looking for a quick answer, we can begin with this: In most instances you will use the word fish whether you are referring to a singular fish or more than one.

However, there are exceptions. Let’s look at those.

When to Use Fishes

Although the plural fish is more common and usually preferred, that doesn’t mean the word fishes is incorrect. Some editors like to distinguish between the plural for several fish of the same type and for dissimilar groups. They will use fish for multiples of the same species but fishes when they differ.


The oceanologist is studying multiples species of related fish.

Trout, salmon, and bass are among the fishes that anglers love most.

While you won’t run into this second spelling and usage often, it is grammatically correct. You may also see fishes when an author wants to make the word stand out or to create a rhyme. For instance, consider the idiomatic phrase “if wishes were fishes we would all be eating right now.”

Some scientists and academic journalists further may prefer the term fishes within certain communities or contexts. If you end up studying something such as biology, you may find that editors and colleagues prefer fishes over fish.

In sum, with the exceptions noted aside, the plural fish will likely be the primary spelling and use you come across in your daily communications.

Pick Up More Helpful Grammar Tips

We are glad to help you determine the proper plural of fish. Your precision with spelling and grammar doesn’t have to end there! Our website includes many more posts, and we add new ones every week. We welcome you to browse them to further your knowledge of grammar and writing in American English.

If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

Leave a Comment or Question:

Please ensure that your question or comment relates to the topic of the blog post. Unrelated comments may be deleted. If necessary, use the "Search" box on the right side of the page to find a post closely related to your question or comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *