Monday, December 22, 2008

Fishy Business

Interestingly, the same advertisement uses a different plural form of fish on each panel: If fish could talk ..., but Guess the number of fishes.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the usual plural form is fish. However, the old-fashioned (e.g. Biblical) form, fishes, may be used to mean varieties of fish.

To illustrate: there may be 20 fish swimming towards the tank; but if there are equal numbers of salmon, trout, plaice and halibut, then there are four fishes.

Perhaps Tetra should make it clear which sense of fish/fishes they intend ... or perhaps this contest is a test of one’s knowledge of grammar rules rather than one’s counting/guessing ability?

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