4

Below is an excerpt taken from the passage given at Passage Comprehension page.

Many scientists are working on safer and better ways to kill mosquitoes, but so far, there is no sure way to protect everyone in the world from their deadly bites. Mosquito nets can be placed over beds to protect people against being bitten. These nets help people stay safe at night, but they do not kill any mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have many natural enemies like bats, birds, dragonflies, and certain kinds of fish.

My doubt is regarding the bolded phrase. Is the bolded phrase correct?

Shouldn't it be either certain kinds of fishes or certain kind of fish.

1

Not at all. The reason is the way the phrase is constructed: the thing of which there are kinds is fish. You can say "kinds of fishes", but it would be redundant and a bit absurd, since "fish" is a common name referring to an entire species, and thus, referring to "all" the fishes already.

It is not an English thing, it is a common construction in several languages when describing groups of things. The thing itself is singular, and the properties referred of said thing (kinds, weights, heights, colours, whatsoever...) go in plural. This is because the actual subject is the property itself, "they" (since the property is referring to a group, and is therefore plural).

To put it simply, the phrase is actually like "Soldiers of England". Soldiers is the subject. So you could weirdly change it to "they are of england". Different kinds of fish, in the same way, could be substituted by "they are of fish". Which things are of fish? Different kinds.

  • 2
    Fishes is fine when the word itself refers to multiple species, but not in kinds of fish because fish refers to fish in general--which is why it requires the modifier kind of to convey that meaning. – snailcar Mar 24 '13 at 20:05

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.