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I've heard people saying How much fish or How many fishes, so I don't know whether fish is countable or uncountable.

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2 Answers 2

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It depends on whether you mean the animal or the food.

Countable:

Animal - I see three fish.

Uncountable:

Food - I eat lots of fish.

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    You would say 'I see two fish' if you saw two trout swimming in a lake, (i.e. two fish of the same species) but if you saw two trout and one salmon. it would be correct to say either "I see two fish" or "I see two fishes". In modern times, the latter is mostly used in a scientific context, but may be found in older material including the Bible story about loaves and fishes, and casual language, e.g. the cliché that victims of Mafia killings 'sleep with the fishes'. Apr 24, 2022 at 7:07
  • You could say 'I'd like two fish please' when at the grocer's, too. After all the food = the animal.
    – paddotk
    Apr 24, 2022 at 16:03
  • @MichaelHarvey: It's not as clear-cut as that. I would say "I see two fishes" if I saw two trout swimming in a lake.
    – TonyK
    Apr 24, 2022 at 18:30
  • @TonyK - you might say it, but most grammar guides and dictionaries specify 'fish' as the ordinary plural. Apr 24, 2022 at 18:34
  • @paddotk - only if the grocer sells only one variety of fish. Apr 24, 2022 at 18:34
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Usually countable, but disguised by the fact that the plural form may be "fish" and the same as the singular form. (see Fish vs Fishes for plural use)

So if you look in a river and say "I can see some fish", you are actually using a countable and plural noun. This is plural and would have plural agreement. "Some fish are swimming in the river". "How many fish are there"?

The only case in which fish is treated as non-count is when it refers to the flesh of a large fish, when served like meat. It is correct to say "How much fish would you like" to ask how large you would like your serving of fish. This uncountable use is not specific to fish, and can apply to any animal or plant that is not eaten whole: "How much lamb", "How much chicken", "How much crab", "How much cabbage" and so on.

There's another exceptional case. The name of card game "Fish" is an uncountable proper noun,

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