Pair Nouns

Pair Nouns

Rule 2.4: Do not add the indefinite article to pair nouns

Pair nouns are thought of as having two separate parts; e.g. two pant legs, that make a whole: pants. Pair nouns always have a plural form and never take the indefinite article a or an.

correct: scissors
incorrect: a scissors
incorrect: a scissor
correct: binoculars
incorrect: a binoculars
incorrect: a binocular

pair nouns

Exercise 18: Correct or incorrect?

Pair of

It is necessary to use the word ‘pair‘ of when using numbers with pair nouns: one pair of binoculars, two pairs of binoculars, three pairs of binoculars. It is optional when numbers are not used e.g. ‘I have a pair of binoculars’ and ‘I have binoculars’ are fine.

Correct: glasses, a pair of glasses, 1 pair of glasses, 2 pairs of glasses, 3 pairs of glasses
Incorrect: a glasses, 1 glasses, 2 glasses, 3 glasses

Correct: jeans, a pair of jeans, 1 pair of jeans, 2 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of jeans
Incorrect: a jeans, 1 jeans, 2 jeans, 3 jeans

Exercise 19: Correct or incorrect?

Extra! Verbs take the plural form with pair nouns:

Long johns are necessary in the winter.
Pliers have many uses.

Verbs take the singular form when ‘a pair of’ is used with pair nouns.

A pair of long johns is necessary in the winter.
A pair of pliers has many uses.

Exercise 20: Correct or incorrect?

Please observe the following mistake that a student of mine made in regards to this grammar point.