Things with two parts

Learn about some common words that have no singular form and do the exercises to practise using them.

Level: intermediate

A few plural nouns refer to things that have two parts. They have no singular form. These are always things we wear:

glasses/spectacles trousers shorts
pyjamas pants boxers
tights jeans knickers

Those trousers are too long.

or implements:

pliers scissors binoculars pincers

These binoculars were very expensive.

To make it clear we are talking about one of these items, we use a pair of …:

I need a new pair of spectacles.
I've bought a pair of blue jeans.

If we want to talk about more than one, we use pairs of …:

We've got three pairs of scissors, but they are all blunt.
I always carry two pairs of binoculars.

Singular, plural or both?

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In my textbook,where they use "shoe" without "s" in an example. The example is -I used my "shoe" as a hammer.
If "shoe" is a pair noun ,why didn't they use "shoes"?

Hello Faii,

We use 'a pair of' when we think of two items as making a whole. This is true of shoes as they are sold as pairs and for most people a right and a left are both needed. However, that does not mean that they cannot be separated and spoken of individually (unlike non-separable 'pairs' like trousers and spectacles). You can have a problem with one shoe (but not the other), for example, or use one shoe as a hammer (as in your example).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team