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Thread: A pair of glasses, it or them?

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    A pair of glasses, it or them?

    "I have a pair of glasses for my poor eyesight. I wear them/it every day. I clean them/it carefully. They/it were/was stolen."

    Should one always use "they" or "them", not "it", in the above case?

    Does one always use plural to refer to anything that is in pairs, even if it is just one integrated object (rather than "a pair of shoes", when there are actually two separate shoes)?

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    You really should say it when referring to the pair, and they when referring to the glasses.
    Same with shoes: that is my favourite pair, those are my favourite shoes.
    But I'm sure a lot of people will confuse the two, and it doesn't sound very wrong when you hear it.

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    Quote Originally Posted by volt View Post
    "I have a pair of glasses for my poor eyesight. I wear them/it every day. I clean them/it carefully. They/it were/was stolen."
    Plural for me
    I have a pair of glasses for my poor eyesight. I wear them every day. I clean them carefully. They were stolen.
    In these shoes?

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    OK, what about:

    "I have two pairs of glasses. This one is better than that one."

    It would sound odd to say
    "This one are better than that one."
    because I think "This one" stands for "This pair", right?

    * * *

    Now what about:
    "Are those your glasses on the table?"
    "Is that your glasses on the table?"

    Which is the correct way to say?

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    I have a pair of glasses and I wear them every day. Indeed, I have several pairs. I wear one of them nearly all of the time when I am awake. I have never referred to any one pair of them as "it".

    However, I might say "that pair of glasses suits you." But if I repeated myself for emphasis it would be "Yes, they really do suit you" and not "Yes, it really does suit you"

    Edited because:
    Quote Originally Posted by volt View Post
    OK, what about:

    "I have two pairs of glasses. This one is better than that one."

    It would sound odd to say
    "This one are better than that one."
    because I think "This one" stands for "This pair", right?

    But I would say "These are better than those"

    * * *

    Now what about:
    "Are those your glasses on the table?"
    "Is that your glasses on the table?"

    Which is the correct way to say?

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    Quote Originally Posted by volt View Post
    OK, what about:

    "I have two pairs of glasses. This one is better than that one."

    It would sound odd to say
    "This one are better than that one."
    because I think "This one" stands for "This pair", right?

    RIGHT !!!

    * * *

    Now what about:
    "Are those your glasses on the table?"
    "Is that your glasses on the table?"

    Which is the correct way to say?
    THOSE (because referring to glasses, plurial)

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    Here is a thread that might be of interest:

    scissors, pants, jeans... are they really uncountable nouns?
    When you want to fight fire with fire, remember that the professionals use water.

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    whose are these\those glasses on the table? - is that correct?

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    Yes, it is
    "There are no rules in English, only guidance. Some guidance looks like a rule; it probably isn't."

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    As far as I can see, the problem with the phrase 'a pair of glasses' is that the logic of subject verb concord does not meet the logic of personal pronoun substitute.

    There is a pair of glasses on the table.
    But: I have a pair of glasses for my poor eyesight. I wear them every day. (as Loob has pointed out).

    That said, two questions follow:
    1) Is it the case only with scissors or other binary objects as well?
    2) Can any reasonable explanation be worked out for this discrepancy?

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    Plural for me. "Where are my glasses? I can't read what's on the screen without them."
    It's the short words that get you.

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    But be aware that no one would say "I have a pair of glasses and I wear them every day." Why? I have no idea. We would just say "I have glasses and I wear them every day," or "I wear glasses." "I wear glasses only for reading." "I wear glasses all the time." But we would say "My glasses broke and I had to buy a new pair."
    Subject, verb, object is the missionary position of the English language. (Dedaimia Whitney)

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    I agree with Sparky Malarky. I would never say, "Where's my pair of glasses?"
    It's the short words that get you.

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky Malarky View Post
    But be aware that no one would say "I have a pair of glasses and I wear them every day." Why? I have no idea. We would just say "I have glasses and I wear them every day," or "I wear glasses." "I wear glasses only for reading." "I wear glasses all the time." But we would say "My glasses broke and I had to buy a new pair."
    How about 'I have a pair of glasses and I wear it every day'?

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky Malarky View Post
    But be aware that no one would say "I have a pair of glasses and I wear them every day."
    I would, and so would Loob above. "I do have a pair of glasses that I use when I drive at night." (True story.)
    "There are no rules in English, only guidance. Some guidance looks like a rule; it probably isn't."

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    There really isn't as much of a discrepancy as it might seem at first, Garbuz. When you're talking about a pair of glasses, in most cases, pair is treated as singular and glasses is treated as plural. That's the way glasses are ordinarily written or spoken about. When sentences don't follow this pattern, it's usually because of a simple error - for example, the speaker started to say "pair of glasses" but changed in mid-speech to "glasses" but didn't make the proper shift in the verb.

    It's a little different for "I have a pair of glasses for my poor eyesight. I wear them every day." First, most people wouldn't say "I have a pair of glasses for my poor eyesight." They'd just say "I have glasses for my poor eyesight." That's a minor issue though since pair of glasses is certainly used in many contexts.

    Second, most speakers would invariably use the singular to refer to pair of glasses - but that's in a single sentence. They might very well be a bit lax about carrying the single-ness or plural-ness over to the next sentence. For example:
    "That pair of glasses on the table is mine." This is all one sentence, so pair of glasses is treated the same throughout the sentence.
    "I lost a pair of glasses. Oh, there they are on that table." There are two sentences, so the speaker might shift from singular to plural from sentence to sentence.
    "If you take hyphens seriously, you will surely go mad" - Oxford University Press style manual

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    Quote Originally Posted by JustKate View Post
    There really isn't as much of a discrepancy as it might seem at first, Garbuz. When you're talking about a pair of glasses, in most cases, pair is treated as singular and glasses is treated as plural. That's the way glasses are ordinarily written or spoken about. When sentences don't follow this pattern, it's usually because of a simple error - for example, the speaker started to say "pair of glasses" but changed in mid-speech to "glasses" but didn't make the proper shift in the verb.

    It's a little different for "I have a pair of glasses for my poor eyesight. I wear them every day." First, most people wouldn't say "I have a pair of glasses for my poor eyesight." They'd just say "I have glasses for my poor eyesight." That's a minor issue though since pair of glasses is certainly used in many contexts.

    Second, most speakers would invariably use the singular to refer to pair of glasses - but that's in a single sentence. They might very well be a bit lax about carrying the single-ness or plural-ness over to the next sentence. For example:
    "That pair of glasses on the table is mine." This is all one sentence, so pair of glasses is treated the same throughout the sentence.
    "I lost a pair of glasses. Oh, there they are on that table." There are two sentences, so the speaker might shift from singular to plural from sentence to sentence.
    I like this theory of mind-shift.
    'There is a pair of glasses on the table. They are mine.'
    What if this shift doesn't occur? Would it be also correct to say '... It is mine'?

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    It would be correct, but I confess (now that I have thought more about it) that I would almost never say that and it would sound odd to me if I heard someone else say it. I'm not sure why except that perhaps for me, the emphasis in pair of glasses is almost always on glasses, not pair. So I'll use the singular when I am specifically talking about a pair of glasses, but at the earliest possible opportunity, the idiomatic speech generator in my head shifts over to the plural glasses.
    "If you take hyphens seriously, you will surely go mad" - Oxford University Press style manual

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    Quote Originally Posted by JustKate View Post
    It would be correct, but I confess (now that I have thought more about it) that I would almost never say that and it would sound odd to me if I heard someone else say it. I'm not sure why except that perhaps for me, the emphasis in pair of glasses is almost always on glasses, not pair. So I'll use the singular when I am specifically talking about a pair of glasses, but at the earliest possible opportunity, the idiomatic speech generator in my head shifts over to the plural glasses.
    Would it work the same way, for example, for trousers?
    There is a pair of trousers on the bed. They are mine. (or It is mine?)

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    Re: A pair of glasses, it or them?

    As with trousers and scissors, we usually do not say 'pair of' unless we have to.

    So I might say I was going out to buy 'new glasses' and when I come back I might say 'They were selling two pairs of glasses for the price of one'.

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