What’s the Plural of Shrimp: Understanding English Nouns

  • Both “shrimp” and “shrimps” are acceptable plural forms of the word.
  • Shrimp” is commonly used as both singular and plural in everyday language.
  • Usage can be influenced by regional dialects and professional contexts.

While “shrimp” as a countable noun can take on the plural form “shrimps,” especially when referring to different species or collections, many English speakers also use “shrimp” as a plural form. The term remains unaltered whether you are talking about one shrimp or multiple shrimp in a general context. It’s important, however, to keep in mind the nuances of language and be aware that pluralization can vary, especially in professional or regional dialects.

What’s the Plural of “Shrimp”?

The noun “shrimp” can refer to both the singular and plural, but “shrimps” is also grammatically correct. The word originates from the Old Norse word “skrempa,” which means a thin person, and later adapted to the crustacean we are familiar with.

The use of shrimp versus shrimps can depend on both regional preferences and contexts of use:

ContextPreferred Plural Form
General Englishshrimp
Scientific and technical writingshrimps
  • General Use: “I had a delicious dish of garlic shrimp.”
  • Scientific Context: “Several species of shrimps were cataloged during the expedition.”

The evolution of English has led to both forms being accepted:

  • “Shrimp” is widespread and commonly accepted as the standard plural form.
  • “Shrimps” is less common but can be used in specific contexts to emphasize individuality within a group.

Correct Plural Usage of “Shrimp”

Accepted Plural Forms:

SingularPlural
shrimpshrimp
shrimpshrimps

Contextual Usage:

  • Uncountable Sense: When referring to shrimp in a general, uncountable sense, the plural remains “shrimp.”

    • For example: “Shrimp is popular in seafood dishes.”
  • Countable Sense: When referring to individual shrimp, both “shrimp” and “shrimps” are correct, though “shrimp” is often preferred.

    • For example: “I counted ten shrimp in the tank.”
  • When shrimp are mentioned as a type of food, or when the quantity isn’t specified, “shrimp” is more commonly used.
  • When highlighting a specific number of individual creatures, it is acceptable to use either “shrimp” or “shrimps.”
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Examples in Sentences:

  • “The recipe calls for one pound of fresh shrimp.”
  • “There are several colorful shrimps swimming in the aquarium.”

Media Sentences with “Shrimp” or “Fishes”

“Shrimp” can be pluralized as “shrimps” in British English, while “shrimp” as a plural form is generally accepted in American English. When referring to more than one species of fish, “fishes” is often used to highlight the diversity.

Examples in Sentences

  • “The documentary showcased various species of shrimp, highlighting their importance in marine ecosystems.”
  • “In the novel, the old sailor reminisced about seas teeming with colorful fishes.”

Usage in Different Contexts

Media“Shrimp”“Fishes”
MoviesOften used in singular form even when plural is meant.Used when referring to multiple fish species.
LiteratureBoth “shrimp” and “shrimps” are used, depending on the author’s preference.“Fishes” emphasizes the variety of species within a narrative.
Educational TextsUsually follows the convention of the region (US/UK).“Fishes” may refer to different fish species studied.

Characters in children’s stories might go on adventures with talking “shrimp” as their companions, while a nature documentary script might describe the symbiotic relationships between “fishes” and other creatures.

  • In animated films, characters might say, “Look at all the shrimp!”
  • News reports may state, “The fishermen caught a diverse range of fishes.”

Media References

  • Movies: The phrase “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes” from “The Godfather” is a well-known example using “fishes” to convey a darker meaning.
  • Books: In literature, the usage of “shrimp” or “shrimps” varies with the author’s style.
  • Nature Documentaries: Frequent usage of “fishes” helps to communicate the biodiversity in the ocean.
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Additional Example Sentences with “Shrimp”

Singular Use:

  • The chef needs one shrimp to garnish the dish.

Plural Use (as ‘shrimp’):

  • There are twenty shrimp in this paella.
  • She observed several shrimp swimming in the tank.

Plural Use (as ‘shrimps’):

  • He counted all the shrimps in the aquarium.
  • The children were excited to see the colorful shrimps at the seafood market.
  • “Shrimp” can be singular or plural.
  • “Shrimps” serves as an alternative plural form.
  • Context determines the preferable pluralization.

Please refer to the tables below for additional examples of “shrimp” in singular and plural contexts.

Example Sentences with Singular ‘Shrimp’

SentenceContext
A shrimp is small but rich in flavor.Singular utilization
Is there a shrimp at the bottom of this net?Singular query

Example Sentences with Plural ‘Shrimp’ and ‘Shrimps’

SentenceContext
She added a handful of shrimp to the curry.Plural as “shrimp”
They observed different types of shrimps during the diving expedition.Plural as “shrimps”

Other Plural Nouns

Regular Plurals
Most nouns form their plurals by simply adding an -s or -es to the end.

SingularPlural
bookbooks
boxboxes

However, nouns ending in -y preceded by a consonant change the -y to -ies.

SingularPlural
partyparties
babybabies

Irregular Plurals
Some nouns have irregular plurals that do not follow standard rules.

  • Child becomes children
  • Man becomes men
  • Tooth becomes teeth

Nouns with Same Singular and Plural
A number of nouns have the same form in both singular and plural.

  • Sheep
  • Species
  • Aircraft

Unchanging nouns can be particularly tricky because they require context to determine if they are singular or plural.

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Foreign-Origin Plurals
Some English nouns borrow pluralization rules from the languages they originate from.

  • Cactus from Latin becomes cacti
  • Alumnus from Latin becomes alumni
  • Fungus from Latin becomes fungi

Phrases Involving the Word “Shrimp”

Here’s a look at some common expressions that feature this word.

Common Idioms and Their Meanings:

IdiomMeaning
Shrimp on the barbieAn Australian phrase popularized globally meaning to put shrimp on the grill
To be a shrimpUsually referring to someone small in size or of minor importance

Phrases Highlighting Quantity and Size:

  • “A shrimp among whales”: An individual or entity that is significantly smaller or less powerful than those around them.
  • “Big fish eat little shrimp”: An expression reflecting the nature of power dynamics, where the powerful often prevail over the weak.

In these phrases, ‘shrimp’ is employed to signify something of lesser magnitude when compared to its peers or opponents.

Usage in Descriptive Language:

When used descriptively, the plural “shrimp” or “shrimps” can indicate abundance or variety. Writers or speakers might enliven their prose or dialogue with sentences like:

  • The buffet featured a dazzling array of ocean delicacies, from lobster to fresh shrimp.
  • The fisherman boasted about the heap of shrimps he caught.

Origin of the Word Shrimp

Etymology:

Old EnglishMiddle EnglishOld NorseProto-Germanic
shrimpeskreppa*skrimp-

Evolution:

  • Old Norse: It is believed that “shrimp” may have roots in Old Norse, with the word skreppa meaning “thin person,” a connection to the small size of the shrimp.
  • Proto-Germanic: The word is likely connected to the Proto-Germanic root *skrimp-, with the notion of being small and thin, leading to the word “scrimp” in modern English.

The diminutive size of these aquatic creatures is reflected in the name itself, as the word “shrimp” has historically been linked to notions of smallness and insignificance.

Modern Use:

  • Singular and Plural Forms: The word “shrimp” serves both as singular and plural, although “shrimps” can also be used as a plural form, though less common.

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