What is the Singular of Species?

Some words in the English language have the same spelling and pronunciation when they are in both plural and singular form, and the word ‘species’ is one of them. Meaning a specific type of animal, plant, or any other living thing, ‘species’ looks and sounds the same no matter if you are referring to one or one hundred.

Keep reading on to learn more about the definition and etymology of ‘species,’ how to use the word in both the singular and plural forms, and one exception to this common grammatical rule.

Definition and Etymology of Species

The etymology of the word species comes from the late 14th century and was originally from Latin. The word first meant a peculiar kind, sort, or type. However, modern usage of the word dates back to mid-1600s biology. A common label, endangered species, was first used in 1964.

The word species refers to a specific animal, plant, or other living thing. While most commonly used to describe plants and animals, there are some use cases in research labs involving bacteria and microorganisms.

Is Species One or Many?

‘Species’ is used in the English language as both the singular and plural forms of the word and is one of several nouns to do so. Other nouns that sound and look alike in singular and plural forms are bison, baggage, public, and fish.

The word ‘fish’ however, is the exception to the rule. This is because both ‘fish’ and ‘fishes’ are both words that exist as plural nouns. You may be wondering why, if ‘fish’ is both plural and singular, why ‘fishes’ is grammatically correct spelling and the answer may surprise you!

There are Fishes Because of Species

The word ‘fishes’ exists, quite literally, because of the word ‘species.’ If you have one or many of the same species of fish, then you would use ‘fish’ for both singular and plural forms. However, if you are referring to multiple species of fish, the singular is fish while the plural form is ‘fishes’.

How to Use Species in Singular and Plural Forms

Using ‘species’ in both singular and plural forms is quite easy. Both forms look and sound the same. A few examples of species in a sentence are

  • There are many species of canines that are in the wild like dingos, wolves, and foxes.
  • One species of the feline genus is the spotted leopard.
  • Did you know that a dolphin is a mammal species?