Grammar Guru: Fish – it or them?

“I’m thinking about what to make for our dinner party. How about having fish?” “Nice! We could serve ______ as the main course.”

It or them? And why?

Published by


Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

9 thoughts on “Grammar Guru: Fish – it or them?”

  1. We had it for dinner yesterday. A variation of the above Indian recipe, substituting dried apricots and fig sauce and yoghurt for the tomatoes (which are not in season no matter how you slice it. Plus, to be honest, I had the ones Helmut bought for lunch.)

    And we’re going to visit them at some Bavarian castle or other on Saturday to see how they survived this awfully cold winter. Will keep you posted.

  2. Shaan Khan’s lovely dish

    haddock (=Schellfisch) or any white fish
    chopped tomatoes

    cumin seeds (Jeera)
    green chili peppers

    curry leaves (Kaddipatta)
    Thai fish sauce (Nam Pla) or fish stock
    curry power (coriander, cumin, turmeric)
    asafoetida (Hing)
    balsamic vinegar (or tamarind or lemon juice)

    also see

  3. “I’m thinking about what to make for our dinner party. How about having fish?” “Nice! We could serve ______ as the main course.”

    * it (91%, 20 votes)
    * them (9%, 2 votes)

    Total voters: 22

    That was a clear vote in favor of not giving your dinner a pet name!
    Grammar Guru

  4. hello!
    why it is wrong to say:
    i’ll buy a fish for dinner.
    and we should use some instead?
    the second question is that why shouldn’t we use any in this sentence:there isn’t a newsagent’s in the town.

    thank you

  5. Hi Inge,

    1. It’s cultural:
    Let’s buy some fish for dinner. (food, etwas Fisch)
    Let’s buy a new fish for the aquarium. (a pet, einen Fisch)
    We often talk differently about the dinner dish and the farm animal/pet, don’t we?
    We might eat veal cutlet (Kalbschnitzel), but not many of us could slaughter the calf!

    2. There isn’t a vs. There aren’t any
    There isn’t a single shop still open! (kein einziger)
    There isn’t a shop still open – anywhere! (keiner, norgends)
    There aren’t any shops still open. (keine mehr)

    not a (single) = emphasized
    not any shops = countable, simple statement

    Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>