The plurals of fish and fruit



I wonder what the plural of fish is.
Some people told me it is "fish" for different species, but if we are talking about fish of the same kind, we can say "fishes." The same happens to "fruit."

What is the grammatically correct answer?

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Posted 26 February 2002
Fish can be a singular count noun, and its usual plural is also fish. Fruit as a singular count noun has the plural of fruits. For example:

Bob and I went fishing, and we caught 17 fish.

There are four or five fish swimming around in my fish tank.

On the tropical island, there are wonderful fruits growing all over.

You should eat three different fruits per day.

However, both fish and fruit more commonly appear as noncount nouns, which do not have plurals. For example, you would say:

I had a little fish and a salad for dinner.

He eats a lot of meat, but he doesn't eat much fish.

Fruit is very good for you, and vegetables are too.

There isn't much fresh fruit available at this time of year.

It is normal in conversation to use fruit as a noncount noun. Fruits used in sentences like these would sound strange.

When do you use the plural count noun fruits? You use fruits to refer to different species of fruit. However, fruits as a plural count noun as in these sentences is much less frequent than fruit as a noncount noun.

Is fishes a plural of fish? Yes, it is, but an infrequently used plural. You can use fishes to refer to different species of fish, particularly in a scientific context:

Baxter is going to present his research on "Fishes of the North Atlantic" at the biologists' conference.

Several fishes in the region have become extinct.

So, both fishes and fruits are plurals, but not the most common ones. They both are used to refer to species, but not used so commonly in everyday conversations.