Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

Plural of Fish

The Quick Answer
The plural of fish is fish or fishes.

The Plural of Fish

The plural of fish is fish or fishes.
  • Fish range in size from 8 millimeters to 16 meters.
  • Ana Ortiz plays my sister in "Sleeping with the Fishes." (Gina Rodriguez)
The plurals fish and fishes can be used interchangeably. However, biologists observe a distinction between fish and fishes. In biology, fishes best translates as types of fish.
  • Our pond contains 3 fishes. There are about 100 fish in total.
The table below shows the standard rules for forming the plurals of nouns in English.

Type Example of Type Forming the Plural Plural
Most Nouns cat
scythe
add s cats
scythes
Noun Ending s, sh, ch, x or z fish
dress
add es fishes
dresses
Nouns ending [consonant] o mango
zero
tomato
add either s or es
(There are no rules for this - you have to know.)
mangoes or mangos
zeros
tomatoes
Nouns ending [vowel] o patio
ratio
add s patios
ratios
Nouns ending [consonant] y story
penny
change the y to an i and add es stories
pennies
Nouns ending [vowel] y storey ()
donkey
add s storeys
donkeys
Nouns ending f or fe dwarf
knife
ves and/or s
(There are no rules - you have to know.)
dwarfs
knives
Exceptions goose
louse
some nouns undergo a vowel or letters change geese
lice
More exceptions salmon
fish
some nouns do not change at all salmon
fish

Why Is There Confusion over the Plural of Fish?

Confusion arises because fish and fishes are used interchangeably. For example:
  • He is sleeping with the fishes.
  • There are plenty more fish in the sea.
Of note, the verb to fish becomes fishes in the third person present tense.