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This is my fish.
Oh, God, I’m so good with gestures!
Hi, everybody! Welcome back to Know Your Verbs.
My name is Alisha, and in this episode, we’re going to talk about the verb “fish.”
Let’s get started!
The basic definition of the verb “fish” is to try to catch fish.
Some examples:
“He fishes at the lake every summer.”
“We’re fishing for something fresh for dinner!”
Now, let’s look at the conjugations for this verb.
Present: fish, fishes
Past: fished
Past Participle: fished
Progressive: fishing
So, now, let’s take a look at some additional meanings for this verb.
The first additional meaning is “to try to get something without being straightforward.”
Let’s look at some examples of this:
“Watch out. I think he’s fishing for confidential information.”
“Do you think she’s fishing for an invitation to the event?”
So, these example sentences show some kind of behavior that’s like not clear.
So, in the first example sentence, we see he’s fishing for confidential information, meaning he’s trying to get confidential information, but he’s not asking directly. He’s not being straightforward in trying to get that information. “He’s fishing” means like he’s going around the issue to try to get it. So, this kind of fishing behavior tends to be kind of suspicious, especially in this example sentence situation.
We also see this in the second situation, “she’s fishing for an invitation to the event.” It means, again, she wants an invitation to the event, but she will not directly say please invite me. Instead, she’s trying to go around the situation or trying to be kind of passive or not being very clear about what she really wants.
You will also hear this in a very common expression, “fishing for compliments.”
“To fish for a compliment” means you’re, like, saying something with the expectation you will receive a compliment in return. So, like, for example, a common one is like maybe complaining about something you’re wearing, like, oh, this is so old or, oh, this is so ugly, or, you know, oh, I’m not sure about my hair, something like that, with the expectation that someone else will give you a compliment. So, that’s a very common behavior, I think, for some people, so we use “fishing for compliments” to describe that. So, you’re using not a straightforward way to get someone to say something nice about you.
I was thinking about it in terms of, like, moving like a fish, like you’re not straightforward. You’re just kind of moving around the issue, never going direct, sort of thing. But yeah, the idea that like, oh, you’re kind of putting out some idea, like you’re going fishing for a concept, you’re going fishing for, like an invitation or some information, you’re putting something out as like bait and you hope the other person takes the bait and gives you what you want. So, it’s like you catch the information or you catch an invitation, you catch a compliment. Ah, interesting, for sure! That’s way better than mine. That’s way better than my interpretation!
So anyway, “fishing for (something)” is going after something, but not in, like, a clear way. You’re trying to, like, get it through slightly suspicious means, perhaps.
Let’s move on to the second additional meaning for this verb, which is “to grope around for something unseen.” So, “to grope” like you’re looking for something is like this motion. You’re looking for something, but something unseen means you can’t see it.
So, we’ll look at some examples here:
“He fished for his keys in his bag.”
“She’s fishing in her purse for a pen.”
So, in these situations, we’re putting a hand in our bag or in a purse and we’re looking for something, but we can’t see inside the bag, so maybe we’re talking to someone else and we’re looking for something, so we can use “fish” to talk about that. So fishing around in your bag, you might also hear “around” used. It means you’re searching for something, kind of like fishing, you can’t see what you’re looking for, but you’re just hoping that you’ll find it, based on a sense of touch.
So, in the first example sentence, “He fished around for his keys in his bag,” perhaps a common one.
In the second example sentence, “She’s fishing for a pen.” so there’s some specific object we hope to find, but we talk about this motion with “fish” instead of like looking. We can say “fishing” to kind of give that nuance of searching for something, but we can’t see what we’re searching for.
All right! Let’s look at that variation of the verb “fish.”
It is “to fish out.”
“To fish out” means to pull something out in a manner similar to fishing. So, in fishing, when we catch a fish, we might make this motion, like this pulling or drawing motion in order to get the thing we caught. So, when we say “fish out,” it means like we’re making the same motion.
Let’s look at some examples:
“I fished a cup out from behind the refrigerator.”
“She’s trying to fish her cat out of the closet with a treat.”
So, in these example sentences, it refers to this kind of pulling motion to get something or to retrieve something.
In the first example sentence, it’s a cup behind the refrigerator. So, in this situation, a cup fell behind a refrigerator. To retrieve it, maybe, we need to use some kind of, like pulling motion to get it out, so, or maybe we have to get some kitchen utensils, tongs, that’s what I used when I have to fish something out. So, we kind of pull or draw something with this motion and we can use the word “fish out” to describe that kind of retrieval.
In the second example sentence, “she’s fishing her cat out of the closet,” it’s like she’s giving the cat a treat, like she’s trying to catch her cat, sort of, by giving the cat a treat. Maybe like at the end of a string, perhaps, even, and she’s making a pulling motion, trying to convince the cat to come out of the closet. So, we can say she’s fishing, she’s fishing for her cat, essentially, or she’s fishing her cat out of the closet.
So, when you hear “fish out,” it means making this kind of pulling or drawing motion to retrieve something.
Okay! So, I hope that you found a new way of using the verb “fish.” If you have any questions or comments or want to try making an example sentence, please feel free to do so in the comment section of the video.
Thanks very much for watching this episode of Know Your Verbs and we’ll see you again soon. Bye-bye!