Re: NANFA-L-- Pennsylvania fishes

Subject: Re: NANFA-L-- Pennsylvania fishes
From: Mysteryman (
Date: Sun Dec 26 2004 - 18:14:03 CST wrote:
 On a
> different note, which is correct: fish or fishes. I know it has to do
> with the number verses species, but I'm not sure which is which.
> Thanks,
> Andrew

When you are talking about multiple species in general, but still
singled out from all fish everywhere, "fishes" is correct, as in "the
fishes of Pennsylvannia." When talking about a more select group of
fish, such as one species in particular, you would say "these (or this)
fish," as in "these fish are solitary predators but spawn in groups," or
"this fish is a solitary predator, but it spawns in large groups," which
is a bit awkward, and I'm not certain I'm right about that example. As
for fish in general, as in the fish on the menu-in-a restaurant or in
the tanks of a petshop, you would say "fish."
There are plenty of fish in the sea.
In many cases, either will work nicely, such as in your own example:
"Any unusual fish live up ..." or "Any unusual fishes..."
 If you want to be extra precise, then "fishes" usually works better in
any example where either will do, but only technically. Oddly, the
general concensus is exactly the opposite among most people.
It's like the word "Deer."
Deer is both singular and plural, but it's perfectly okay to say "the
deers of North America" if you are talking about all the deer species as
a group, but otherwise you would never say "deers." Of course, almost no
one would ever actually SAY "deers" in that example, but they could if
they really wanted to.
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: Sat Jan 01 2005 - 12:42:05 CST