Grammar Tips & Articles »

Fish vs. Fishes

This article is about Fish vs. Fishes — enjoy your reading!

2:51 min read
  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
Font size:

Fish vs. Fishes

"Fish" and "fishes" represent one of those pairs of almost identical words, that can create a lot of confusion not only due to their similitude, but also due to the numerous meanings they have in different contexts. At a first sight, they might simply look like two versions of the plural for "fish", having you wondering which one is correct.

But taking a closer look, there's a little more to discuss about "fish" and "fishes" and what they can represent in a phrase, so let's clear these things up for you!

Fish vs. Fishes

Yes, both words are usual in the English vocabulary and none is completely considered a misspelling. Even so, this doesn't mean that if you use "fish" instead of "fishes" in an inappropriate context, it won't be considered misspelled. That makes it important that you are able to make a perfect distinction between "fish" and "fishes" and what message each stands for.

When do we use "fish"?

"Fish" has multiple meanings. First, it is the singular noun referring to an animal with a tail and fins that help him swim and live only inside the water. This noun, anyway, is irregular, which means it doesn't simply add an "-s" in the end, to form plural. Its plural form, actually, is the same with its singular. As a result, "fish" is also the plural noun, referring to more than one "fish". Nonetheless, "fish" can also be used as a noun referring to food, dish.

And then, "fish" is also a verb, referring to the action of catching fish. Here are some examples to illustrate the contexts where you can use "fish" correctly in English:

Example 1: He caught one fish, but he wants to catch more. - the singular noun referring to one animal that lives in water and swims using its tails and fins.

Example 2: I liked two fish in the pet shop, but I couldn't choose one. - the plural noun referring to more than one fish.

Example 3: For dinner, we are having fish and rice. - a noun referring to "fish" as dinner.

Example 4: I want to learn how to fish, it might be useful for me in the future. - as a verb, "fish" defines the action of trying to catch a fish.

When do we use "fishes"?

Despite the confusion that has created around this word, "fishes" cannot be used as the plural for "fish", at least not when you refer to more than one fish. But it can be used when referring to more types or species of fish.

Plus, there is one more context where "fishes" is considered correct, and that happens when it is used in present simple, as a verb, at third person.

Example 1: Different fishes have different types of colors, swimming speeds and flavors. - referring to more species of fish.

Example 2: He fishes every day because that's his job: he is a fisherman! - "fishes" is used as a verb, at present simple, for the third person.


Just as you could see in the previous examples and explanations, there are a lot of meanings that "fish" and "fishes" can take according to the context where they are used. All these meanings are different and, therefore, you should not confuse one for another if you want your message to be properly understood.

Fish vs. Fishes

Rate this article:

Have a discussion about this article with the community:

  • grahamm.04505
    Ok. But why don't we say birdses.
    LikeReply12 months ago
  • George Ene
    George Ene
    "But it can be used when referring to more types or species of fish.".
    Can be used, but is it okay if "fish" is used to referr to species of fish, unlike the present simple verb which is "fishes" and that's the only correct way. 
    LikeReply3 years ago


Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:


"Fish vs. Fishes." STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 14 Jun 2024. <>.

Free, no signup required:

Add to Chrome

Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!

Free, no signup required:

Add to Firefox

Check your text and writing for style, spelling and grammar problems everywhere on the web!


Free Writing Tool:

Grammar Checker

Improve your grammar, vocabulary, and writing -- and it's FREE!


Are you a grammar master?

Identify the sentence with a correct preposition:
A He is allergic of cats.
B They are fond in music.
C She is afraid from spiders.
D She is interested in science.

Improve your writing now:

Download Grammar eBooks

It’s now more important than ever to develop a powerful writing style. After all, most communication takes place in reports, emails, and instant messages.