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?


Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.

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).



The LearnEnglish Team