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Fish or fishes

 
 
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 10:55 am
I know that fishes is plural for many species of fish (wait, should that be fishes?), but there is a comedian who used to tell a joke and I wanted to know if this was the correct use.

He's talking about catholics wearing crosses, and he says, "Do you think when Jesus comes back he ever wants to see a cross again? Maybe that's why he hasn't come back yet." And then he goes into this impersonation of Jesus: "No way, I'm not going dad. They're still wearing crosses! They totally missed the point! Maybe if they start wearing fishes I'll go back."

Is this usage correct?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 3,034 • Replies: 11
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 11:38 am
Questions like this are best answered by looking at the classics of American Literature:

"One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish."
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 12:07 pm
How about "fishies"?
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caprice
 
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Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 02:17 pm
According to The Oxford English Dictionary, which would be the definitive source, the plural of fish is fish or fishes.

So there ya go kickycan.

Funny joke by the way. Smile
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kickycan
 
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Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 03:43 pm
I don't think I explained this clearly.

It is "fish" in the sentence, "I see a school of fish." Right? That's the plural for fish in that case.

But "fishes" is supposed to be used when you are talking about species of fish. For example, "Tuna and Mackerel are fishes that I have caught".

So, if that's how it works, then in the example I posted originally, is that the correct usage of "fishes?"
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rufio
 
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Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 07:55 pm
I may be totally off here, but the "fishes" in the joke aren't fishes that swim in the sea right? They're those Ixthus fishes or whatever. The plural for a fish that swims in the sea would probably be fish.... but for other types of fish would use a more standardized plural, I think.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 07:59 pm
This is all news to me, I just thought the plural was "fish", period.
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kickycan
 
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Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 08:15 pm
Rufio, now that is an interesting point. I didn't even think of that. But those Ixthus fishes or whatever are really supposed to represent a fish in the water, so I think they should still be treated like a regular fish. So I guess the plural should be just "fish" in that case.

Is there an English teacher in the house!?
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oristarA
 
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Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 09:04 pm
Fish or fishes was correct -- you could use either.

AHD: pl. fish; or fishes

Webster: Inflected Form(s): plural fish or fish·es

Encarta: noun (plural fish, fish·es)

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary: fish (ANIMAL) noun [C or U] plural fish or fishes
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caprice
 
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Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 09:15 pm
kickycan: The original example looks okay to me. As I said, The Oxford English Dictionary states either fish or fishes as plural form. Your third example would be correct if you had used "fish" too, instead of "fishes".
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colorbook
 
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Reply Thu 26 Feb, 2004 11:56 pm
No matter how many species of fishes you have...when they're all fried up in a pan...they're just called fish.
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rufio
 
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Reply Fri 27 Feb, 2004 01:46 am
I thought Ixthus fishes were supposed to represent something very different from normal fish. It seems more like a metaphor to me than a literal meaning, even though they are shaped like fish (and not accidentally). I mean, you would want to know the difference between a fish fish and an Ixthus fish if you heard someone talk about them.
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