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The singular form of fish is fish. The plural form of fish is also fish. What are their possessive forms?

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Note that fishes is also a valid plural form (used in certain contexts) and is confusingly similar in pronunciation to the possessive fish's. –  TrevorD May 21 '13 at 0:44
@TrevorD I believe that's for referring to groups of fish of different species. –  batpigandme May 21 '13 at 1:24
@batpigandme So? –  Kris May 21 '13 at 7:07
@Kris so, if you're wondering when to say fishes as opposed to fish now you know... I did many 'biodiversity' sample dives for marine biology, and when writing them up it certainly made a difference. –  batpigandme May 21 '13 at 10:04
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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Bradd Szonye, Matt Эллен, MετάEd, Kristina Lopez May 21 '13 at 14:04

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

As Wikipedia and the Purdue OWL both note:

  • Singular possessives always add -’s.
  • Plural possessives add -’s if they don't already end in s.

Because the plural fish does not end in s, it becomes fish’s, just like the singular form.

Note: In some contexts, the plural of fish is fishes. Because that does end in s, it becomes fishes’.

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What a gigantic pain English can be and I am a native speaker. –  ChristopherW May 21 '13 at 0:52
Except that it could as well be fishes' –  Kris May 21 '13 at 7:05
Neither of the cited references says anything about fish or fishes -- or did I miss it? –  Kris May 21 '13 at 7:07
I know. However, the statement "Therefore,..." is categorical and suggests no riders to "whether it is singular or plural." –  Kris May 21 '13 at 7:15
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