What’s the Plural of Tuna: Understanding Collective Nouns in English

  • Tuna” serves as both the singular and plural form of the noun.
  • The alternative plural “tunas” is used when referring to different species or types.
  • Both “tuna” and “tunas” are correct, with usage depending on context.

The term “tuna” can be used both as a singular and a plural noun. When discussing more than one individual tuna, “tuna” remains the same, following a pattern similar to other nouns that do not change their form between singular and plural, such as “sheep” or “deer.” However, when referring to different species or types of tuna, “tunas” is also acceptable. This dual possibility stems from the Latin origin of the word “tuna,” which has been adopted into English with minimal alteration.

What’s the Plural of Tuna?

The word “tuna” falls into an interesting category regarding its plural form. Typically, the noun “tuna” when referred to as the type of fish, can be both countable and uncountable.

When speaking about “tuna” in a countable sense, such as different species, one might use “tunas.” However, in most contexts where the type of fish is referred to in a general sense, the plural of “tuna” remains “tuna.”

Pluralization Contexts for Tuna:

SingularPluralUsage Context
tunatunaRefers to the food substance as a collection or school of fish.
tunatunasUsed when distinguishing among different species or types.

To clarify, here’s how you might find “tuna” and “tunas” used within sentences:

  • “I bought two cans of tuna for lunch.”
  • “On my diving trip, I saw a variety of tunas including bluefin and yellowfin.”
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Common Use Cases:

  • In a grocery store: When purchasing tuna, whether in cans or as steaks, the sign will typically say “tuna” not “tunas.”
  • In marine biology: Articles discussing different kinds of tuna species may use the term “tunas” to emphasize the variety.

Additional Considerations:

  • Countability: It is essential to determine if you are discussing tuna as a category of fish or as individual species.
  • Consistency: Stick to one pluralization form within a piece to maintain clarity and consistency.

Singular Form of Tuna

Tuna Characteristics:

  • Singular Form: Tuna
  • Class: Fish
  • Habitat: Marine environments
  • Diet: Carnivorous
Term UsageExample
General (Singular)I saw a tuna in the aquarium.
Specific (Singular)That is an albacore tuna.
  • Singular Form: Tuna
    • One specimen of the fish
    • Used in non-technical and everyday language
  • Scientific Singular Form: A species name, such as Thunnus alalunga (Albacore tuna)
    • Used in scientific or specific contexts

Meaning of Tuna

The term tuna coincides with both singular and plural applications in the English language, often causing a bit of confusion. It refers to a group of large and powerful fish that are members of the family Scombridae. These sea creatures are known for their commercial value both as food and for sport fishing due to their significant size and fighting ability.

Tuna species vary wildly, from the smaller skipjack to the formidable bluefin. The context in which the word is used determines its numerical form—whether it’s referencing one kind of fish or multiple types.

Below are two tables that categorize the common types of tuna and the appropriate contexts to use “tuna” or “tunas” as plural:

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Common Tuna TypesDescription
AlbacoreKnown for its lighter flesh and is often canned
Bigeye TunaPrized for sashimi due to its high-fat content
Bluefin TunaThe largest type, highly valued for sushi
Yellowfin TunaRecognized by the yellow coloring on its fins
Skipjack TunaSmaller, commonly used for canned tuna
ContextPlural Form

Here are a few key points to remember about the plural form of tuna:

  • In general contexts, use “tuna” to refer to the group as a whole.
  • The word “tunas” comes into play when referencing multiple species.

Nouns with Unchanged Forms for Singular and Plural

Notable nouns with unchanged forms include:

  • Deer
  • Sheep
  • Species
  • Aircraft

These nouns can be confusing for learners because they do not follow the regular pluralization pattern, where one typically adds an “-s,” “-es,” or changes the ending as in “baby” to “babies”.


Here’s a quick guide on using these nouns:

  • Context Matters: The sentence context will often indicate whether the noun is singular or plural.

    For instance:

    • “The sheep is grazing” indicates one sheep.
    • “The sheep are grazing” indicates multiple sheep.
  • Articles and Quantity Words: Use articles like “a” or “an” for the singular form or quantity words like “some” or “several” for plural.

    For example:

    • “A deer was spotted.”
    • “Several deer were spotted.”

The Word Tuna Used in Sentences

Sentence Examples Utilizing ‘Tuna’

SingularPlural UnspecifiedPlural Specified
She prefers her sandwich with tuna.The sushi chef recommended trying various tuna at the buffet.Of all the tunas, the bluefin is the most sought after.

When constructing sentences, we can explore the use of ‘tuna’ in various contexts. Below are bullet points that showcase different sentence structures:

  • Singular reference: The tuna swimming by the boat captivated all the tourists.
  • General plural use (unchanged): They couldn’t believe how much tuna was caught today.
  • Specific plural use (as ‘tunas’): The exhibit highlighted several tunas, illustrating the biodiversity of the ocean.
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The flexibility of ‘tuna’ corresponds to its context in sentences, which is anchored by the conventions of English grammar. Maintaining a neutral and factual approach aids in understanding these grammatical nuances.

Origin of the Word Tuna

In understanding the pluralization of the word “tuna”, it is pertinent to explore its etymological background. Tuna finds its roots in different languages, evolving through time and space from the Latin Thunnus, which refers to the swift-swimming fish we know as the tuna.

As the word traveled linguistically, it was adopted into Arabic as “tun”, from which the Spanish derived the word “atún”. This influence was reflected in American Spanish, particularly in California, where the word “tuna” emerged in the late 19th century.

Here is a brief chronology of the word’s transformation:

LatinArabicSpanishAmerican Spanish

The journey of the word is not only linguistic but also cultural, as it accompanied the fish itself through trade and culinary exchanges across the Mediterranean into the Arab world, and then across the ocean to the Americas.

MediterraneanThunnusInitial Term
ArabtunLinguistic Adoption
SpanishatúnCultural Adaptation
AmericantunaAmerican Spanish Adaptation
  • The term “tunny”, still used in British English, also stems from the same Latin origin but has become less frequent.
  • Tuna has retained its singular form as its plural, which is not uncommon in English for certain animal names.
  • Despite the multiple linguistic transformations, the reference to the fish has remained clear throughout its etymology.


  1. Definition of tuna.
  2. Sentences using tuna.
  3. Origin of tuna.

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