Things with two parts

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?


Average: 4.3 (7 votes)

Submitted by howtosay_ on Sun, 02/07/2023 - 04:34


Hello, dear teachers and team!

Could you please help me with the following:

Would it be correct to say

"Fifty kilometers are hard to go on foot" ? Or has it to be:

"Fifty kilometers (=a unit of distance) is hard to go on foot?

I'm very very grateful for all your help and thank you very much indeed for your answer to this comment beforehand!!!

Hi howtosay_,

Usually "is" would be used, since the sense is of 50 kilometres as a unit, as you say.


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Faii on Sun, 22/05/2022 - 06:15


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