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View Poll Results: What is the plural of "pair"?
Pairs 94 59.87%
Pair 22 14.01%
I use both interchangeably 14 8.92%
I use both but differently 27 17.20%
Voters: 157. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:23 PM
Electric Warrior Electric Warrior is offline
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Would you say "two pair" or "two pairs"?

There have been a few regional dialect survey type threads on here lately, so now I would like to satisfy my curiosity about who says what where. I have always grown up saying "two pairs of socks" but I have recently encountered the other usage, most recently yesterday on a package of socks in a store. So here is a poll! And after you've answered the poll, if you feel like it, please post where you grew up and/or any other relevant data that might affect your answer, such as if your parent(s) grew up in a place with a different regional dialect from your own.

As for me, I say "two pairs". I am from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. My mother spent her childhood moving around the deep South and my father is from the suburbs of Chicago.
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  #2  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:27 PM
Giles Giles is online now
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"Two pairs" -- born in Australia, spent a lot of early childhood in England.
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  #3  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:28 PM
Freudian Slit Freudian Slit is offline
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Grew up mostly in New York (suburb near Manhattan). And I say two pairs. It's a normal word, so it gets an "s" when it's pluralized. Have never heard of "two pair."
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  #4  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:29 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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One pair
Two pairs
Three pairs

Anything over one is plural.
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  #5  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:31 PM
Electric Warrior Electric Warrior is offline
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I hope the person who said 'both but differently' replies! Though I suspect maybe the difference is what type of thing you have more than one pair of.
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  #6  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:34 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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UK. A pair is a singular noun describing a plural (like "a brace" where it comes to pheasants). Therefore the plural is "pairs".

Though there are words used in the UK that don't take the natural plural form - such as when we're expressing body weight in stone. And prices in quid.

Slightly tenuously connected, in Ireland the plural of the euro currency is "euro" and the plural of the euro cent is "cent". But they say "a scissors" so what do they know?

Last edited by jjimm; 06-01-2010 at 03:36 PM..
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  #7  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:35 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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My mother, from the Midwest, would say pairs. My father, from the South, would say pair. I say pairs.
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  #8  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:37 PM
MeanOldLady MeanOldLady is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord View Post
One pair
Two pairs
Three pairs

Anything over one is plural.
Right. If there are two of them, why would you use the singular?
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  #9  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:38 PM
statsman1982 statsman1982 is offline
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Born and raised in New Mexico, now live in West Texas.

I say pairs. I think in standard American English, collective nouns are usually singular (a committee writes an opinion, e.g.), and thus take an "s" to be made plural. I don't see anything special about "pairs."

However, I am in the minority in my neck of the woods. I have always, always, always, heard "two pair of boots," or "two pair of pants." To me, it always sounds like something a cowboy would say.
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  #10  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:41 PM
Hedda Rosa Hedda Rosa is offline
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Raised Chicago and upstate NY, now live in CA. I'd say "two pairs".
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  #11  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:44 PM
akennett akennett is offline
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"Two pair" in poker.
"Two pairs" in everything else.
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  #12  
Old 06-01-2010, 03:56 PM
Johanna Johanna is online now
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I agree with adding -s, of course. My Mom, who is from Northern Ohio like me but comes from western Pennsylvania roots and lived in western Pennsylvania as a girl, tends to omit the -s. I'm guessing it's more an old-fashioned usage than regional dialect, and my Mom's generation must have been the last to talk like that. I've always wondered why some people omit the -s, but have never seen an explanation for it.

Edit:
Unless it's like fish or deer -- "just one of those things."

Last edited by Johanna; 06-01-2010 at 03:58 PM..
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  #13  
Old 06-01-2010, 04:00 PM
overlyverbose overlyverbose is offline
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Two pairs - I'm originally from southern Indiana.
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  #14  
Old 06-01-2010, 04:06 PM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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Pair = all paired items are the same, as in a bundle of identical socks. In this sense, "pair" is effectively part of the number, not part of the item description.
Pairs = each pair is different from the other pairs.
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  #15  
Old 06-01-2010, 04:30 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akennett View Post
"Two pair" in poker.
"Two pairs" in everything else.
Concur.
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  #16  
Old 06-01-2010, 04:34 PM
Negative Lite Negative Lite is offline
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Both but differently because you must say "Two pair" in poker.
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  #17  
Old 06-01-2010, 04:41 PM
Cyningablod Cyningablod is offline
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I grew up in the Upland South of the US (Tennessee) and while I don't practice the "pair" singular-as-plural thing, a lot of my kinfolk do. More than one pair = pairs.
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  #18  
Old 06-01-2010, 04:44 PM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akennett View Post
"Two pair" in poker.
"Two pairs" in everything else.

It's "two pair" in poker and everything else. You all are all wrong!
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  #19  
Old 06-01-2010, 04:57 PM
Mauvaise Mauvaise is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akennett View Post
"Two pair" in poker.
"Two pairs" in everything else.
Yep. I was trying to see if I used "two pair" in any other context, but I think only in poker.
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  #20  
Old 06-01-2010, 05:27 PM
Yeticus Rex Yeticus Rex is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akennett View Post
"Two pair" in poker.
"Two pairs" in everything else.
Dittos.
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  #21  
Old 06-01-2010, 06:13 PM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
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To compare the pair, I would not care to dare pare "pairs" to "pair."
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  #22  
Old 06-01-2010, 06:39 PM
seanchai seanchai is offline
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Doesn't "pair" mean a set of two?

I have a pair of books by the same author, and I hope to find the others.

Mama collects teaspoons. She has a pair from Niagara Falls.

an seanchai
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  #23  
Old 06-01-2010, 06:46 PM
amarinth amarinth is offline
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After walking around saying "two pairs of _____" and "two pair of _________," I think (but I might be fooling myself), it depends on what there are multiple pairs of how that word is pluralized. I think if it's something that becomes plural by adding an s to the end, it's "two pairs" ("two pairs of pants" "two pairs of monkeys") but if it's an irregular plural, it's "two pair" ("two pair of dice" "two pair of geese")

But I may have talked myself into thinking that, because it's a nice rule that makes sense. And the word "pair" is has started to sound funny.
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  #24  
Old 06-01-2010, 06:56 PM
In Winnipeg In Winnipeg is offline
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Two pairs. Plural needs the s added.

Born in Northwestern Ontario, grew up in Vancouver.
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  #25  
Old 06-01-2010, 06:56 PM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanchai View Post
Doesn't "pair" mean a set of two?

I have a pair of books by the same author, and I hope to find the others.

Mama collects teaspoons. She has a pair from Niagara Falls.

an seanchai
Yes, seanchi - a pair IS two; and you can have two of them, being four articles or two sets. I would not have necessarily thought that two books by the same author constitutes a pair; maybe a set, if they'd only ever written two books I guess, but hey, what do I know...? So if you did have two pairs of books, and your Mama had two pairs of Niagara Falls teaspoons, waddya call 'em?
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  #26  
Old 06-01-2010, 06:59 PM
Kamino Neko Kamino Neko is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akennett View Post
"Two pair" in poker.
"Two pairs" in everything else.
What he said.
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  #27  
Old 06-01-2010, 07:00 PM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amarinth View Post
("two pairs of pants" "two pairs of monkeys") but if it's an irregular plural, it's "two pair" ("two pair of dice" "two pair of geese").
I think it's actually two pair of pant, a bunch of monkeys, four die, and a goose and a goose.
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  #28  
Old 06-01-2010, 07:04 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Just curious: all of you who insist that it must be pairs:

Would you also say someone is "five-feet-seven"?
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  #29  
Old 06-01-2010, 07:08 PM
Electric Warrior Electric Warrior is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Just curious: all of you who insist that it must be pairs:

Would you also say someone is "five-feet-seven"?
I would say "five foot seven" but "five feet seven" doesn't sound all that strange to me. I'm certainly not insisting that other people are wrong, just trying to assemble some data.
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  #30  
Old 06-01-2010, 07:12 PM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Just curious: all of you who insist that it must be pairs:

Would you also say someone is "five-feet-seven"?
I would say they were 1.7 metres...
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  #31  
Old 06-01-2010, 07:35 PM
In Winnipeg In Winnipeg is offline
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So...is it "a suit with two pairs of pants", or "a suit with two pair of pants"?
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  #32  
Old 06-01-2010, 08:23 PM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
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..some may argue that it's a suit with two pant...I wouldn't, but someone would!
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  #33  
Old 06-01-2010, 09:44 PM
Terra1041 Terra1041 is offline
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"Two pairs" except in poker.
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  #34  
Old 06-01-2010, 09:51 PM
Arrendajo Arrendajo is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by statsman1982 View Post

However, I am in the minority in my neck of the woods. I have always, always, always, heard "two pair of boots," or "two pair of pants." To me, it always sounds like something a cowboy would say.
Agree. My cowboy grandpa would have said "He's got 2 pair a' ostrich skin boots but don't have a pot to piss in."
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  #35  
Old 06-01-2010, 11:47 PM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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It should be "pairs."

1 pair of X
2 pairs of X
etc.

2 pair could be a dialect or slang.

Regarding foot/feet, it depends if it's a noun or adjective. Compare:

A 30-foot-long rope
vs
30 feet of rope.
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  #36  
Old 06-02-2010, 12:51 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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The issue is clouded in my mind because not everything that is called a 'pair' is not actually two things. A pair of socks is made of two individual and separate socks. But a pair of pants is in fact one pant, or possibly one pants -- I'm guessing because of two leg holes?? A pair of shorts, a pair of swimming trunks, etc.

I don't know why there isn't a similar convention for shirts, which after all have two arms.

Nothing else that is called a 'pair' but isn't really is coming to mind at the moment.
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  #37  
Old 06-02-2010, 03:08 AM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
The issue is clouded in my mind because not everything that is called a 'pair' is not actually two things. A pair of socks is made of two individual and separate socks. But a pair of pants is in fact one pant, or possibly one pants -- I'm guessing because of two leg holes?? A pair of shorts, a pair of swimming trunks, etc.

I don't know why there isn't a similar convention for shirts, which after all have two arms.

Nothing else that is called a 'pair' but isn't really is coming to mind at the moment.
There's no such thing as a "pant," a "jean," or an "eyeglass." Some uncountable nouns end with "s" or "es."

Shirts are countable, thus you can have a shirt.
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  #38  
Old 06-02-2010, 03:29 AM
Negative Lite Negative Lite is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
The issue is clouded in my mind because not everything that is called a 'pair' is not actually two things. A pair of socks is made of two individual and separate socks. But a pair of pants is in fact one pant, or possibly one pants -- I'm guessing because of two leg holes?? A pair of shorts, a pair of swimming trunks, etc.

I don't know why there isn't a similar convention for shirts, which after all have two arms.

Nothing else that is called a 'pair' but isn't really is coming to mind at the moment.
Scissors? tongs?
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  #39  
Old 06-02-2010, 03:53 AM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
There's no such thing as a "pant," a "jean," or an "eyeglass." Some uncountable nouns end with "s" or "es."

Shirts are countable, thus you can have a shirt.
I beg to differ, Superhal; there is in fact "pant suit" and an "eyeglass" is actually the lens - hence a pair of them being "eyeglasses." Granted, there is no "jean" - except of course for its homophone.
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  #40  
Old 06-02-2010, 05:42 AM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast View Post
I beg to differ, Superhal; there is in fact "pant suit" and an "eyeglass" is actually the lens - hence a pair of them being "eyeglasses." Granted, there is no "jean" - except of course for its homophone.
Re: Pantsuit: words often lose their grammar or gain new grammar depending on how it is used. "Pants" is an uncountable noun. "Pant" as used in your example is an adjective, although dictionary.com says it's one word (which creates a compound word, which would also not influence the grammar of "pants.") The adjective "Pant" is not the singular form of the noun "Pants."

For eyeglass vs eyeglasses, you can't use eyeglass (a lens) to refer to a singular of eyeglasses (lenses in a frame.) Whether it does exist or not is irrelevant. "Trash" is an uncountable noun, yet "trashes" exists as the singular form of the verb "to trash." Apples and oranges here.

Examples:
(Single lens eyeglasses) "One lens fell out! Can you fix my eyeglasses?"
(Eyeglasses without lenses) "Both lenses fell out! Can you fix my eyeglasses?"
(Plural, one lens each) "I want to recycle my old lenses. Can I get 2 pairs of eyeglasses with one lens each?"

Last edited by Superhal; 06-02-2010 at 05:44 AM..
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  #41  
Old 06-02-2010, 06:03 AM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
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Thanks for that Superhal - you're super! I would however make the point that the Oxford Complete Wordfinder defines "pant suit" as two words, and "eyeglass" as:
n 1 a a lens for correcting or assisting defective sight: b (n pl) a pair of these held in the hand or kept in position on the nose by means of a frame or a spring: 2 a small glass vessel for applying lotions etc to the eye."
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  #42  
Old 06-02-2010, 06:16 AM
BigT BigT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Just curious: all of you who insist that it must be pairs:

Would you also say someone is "five-feet-seven"?
I remember in grade school we our teacher would write a whole set of sentences on the chalk board, and they would each have one error in spelling and one in grammar. One of spelling errors was using the word feet in that context. She told me the word "foot" was acting as an adjective.
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  #43  
Old 06-02-2010, 06:23 AM
Superhal Superhal is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast View Post
Thanks for that Superhal - you're super! I would however make the point that the Oxford Complete Wordfinder defines "pant suit" as two words, and "eyeglass" as:
n 1 a a lens for correcting or assisting defective sight: b (n pl) a pair of these held in the hand or kept in position on the nose by means of a frame or a spring: 2 a small glass vessel for applying lotions etc to the eye."
Maybe that dictionary is British English? What order is quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, and septillion, from smallest to largest?

"Pairs of eyeglasses" follows all the rules of use that any other uncountable noun does. It is conjugated exactly the same as "cups of coffee," "pairs of jeans" or "bottles of water."

However, I do see the logic in the Oxford definition. I would be surprised if the evolution of the term "pair of eyeglasses" just so happened to match the general rule for non-count nouns in general.

Hmm, after running it through my head, it does seem possible that "pair of eyeglasses" behaves the same way as say "boxes of pencils" or "bags of potatoes."

Hmm, maybe it's time to call in an etymologist.
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  #44  
Old 06-02-2010, 06:34 AM
hogarth hogarth is offline
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"I sold a code and two pair of plans." -- Chico Marx
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  #45  
Old 06-02-2010, 07:31 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is online now
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I voted for "pair" since my initial thought was that I would say "two pair of pants." Upon reflection, and reading the responses, I think I would also use "pairs" in some contexts. I would instruct a team of players to divide into pairs, for example.

This is one of those words like "deer" where sometimes you might say "I just saw some deer in my back yard." Although sometimes you might say "the baby deers were running after their mother."

I'm confused now.
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  #46  
Old 06-02-2010, 07:32 AM
6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast 6ImpossibleThingsB4Breakfast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superhal View Post
Maybe that dictionary is British English? What order is quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion, and septillion, from smallest to largest?

"Pairs of eyeglasses" follows all the rules of use that any other uncountable noun does. It is conjugated exactly the same as "cups of coffee," "pairs of jeans" or "bottles of water."

However, I do see the logic in the Oxford definition. I would be surprised if the evolution of the term "pair of eyeglasses" just so happened to match the general rule for non-count nouns in general.

Hmm, after running it through my head, it does seem possible that "pair of eyeglasses" behaves the same way as say "boxes of pencils" or "bags of potatoes."

Hmm, maybe it's time to call in an etymologist.
Two trick questions to begin, super Superhal...? 1. Is there any other kind of English ? 2. The order in which they are kindly presented (notwithstanding the forgotten "bazillion" which is the mostest.)

Indeed, my pair of eyeglasses often behaves like my boxes of pencils and bags of potatoes, so there's more than just confusion with the English language around here.

Call the etymologist!
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  #47  
Old 06-02-2010, 07:39 AM
bibliophage bibliophage is offline
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I almost always use "pair" as the plural. There's nothing wrong with "pairs," but I don't use it much. I was raised in upstate New York. Both my parents were from New England.

Here's what Bergen Evans and Cornelia Evans said in A Dictionary of Contemporary American Usage (1957): "The plural is pair or pairs. Six pair of gloves is the older form. Six pairs of gloves is the newer. Both are acceptable." Bergen Evans, it so happens, was a teacher of a guy named Cecil Adams (cite).

Last edited by bibliophage; 06-02-2010 at 07:40 AM..
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  #48  
Old 06-02-2010, 10:26 AM
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It's pairs. To everyone else here in S. GA, the plural of cent is cents!
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  #49  
Old 06-02-2010, 11:45 AM
appleciders appleciders is offline
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I use "pair" more often than "pairs", but I'll certainly use either, and I don't notice it when I or other people use the other.
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  #50  
Old 06-02-2010, 12:19 PM
Dead Cat Dead Cat is offline
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Originally Posted by Terra1041 View Post
"Two pairs" except in poker.
Likewise, but in the poll I voted for "two pairs" exclusively, because poker is a special case in that "two pair" is just the name of a particular hand. I have heard people announce "two pairs" in poker, though, if only occasionally, and no-one thought that was particularly odd - just unusual. On the other hand, I would think of "two pair of socks" as very odd.
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