1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Singular/plural - A pair of shoes

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ma.mithril, Aug 3, 2005.

  1. ma.mithril New Member

    ankara
    turkey-turkish
    hi
    i want to learn which one is true?

    where is my shoes?
    where are my shoes?

    thanks
     
  2. timebomb

    timebomb Senior Member

    Singapore
    Singapore, English
    This is easy. It should be "where are my shoes?". What's less easy though is when someone's looking for his pair of shoes :D I'll leave that to the experts.
     
  3. Yang Senior Member

    Taiwan /Traditional Chinese
    As Timebomb's answer, the second one is the right one.

    I would like to add a few words:

    my shoes-- how many are they? Can't tell. It might be a pair of shoes or more than that.

    If the subject is "a pair", that means one, so the verb will be "is".
    It the subject is "these", "those", or "my", that can not be telled how many,
    then the verb is plural.

    I hope this would be help.:)
     
  4. Yang Senior Member

    Taiwan /Traditional Chinese
    I thought that both sentences are right.

    Where is my shoes?-- a pair of shoes. The one you are asking knows what you are saying.

    Where are my shoes?-- lots of your shoes. Still, the one you are asking knows what you are saying.

    This is my personal opinion, if there is any wrong with them, please correct me.
     
  5. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    I don't think I would ever say such a thing as
    Where is my pair of shoes ?
    I would always say
    Where are my shoes ?
    But then I'm not a native....:)
     
  6. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    It's definitely "where are my shoes". No one says "where is my shoes".
     
  7. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Hello Yang,

    Your logic is correct, but the sentence is not.

    No native would ever say "Where is my shoes?" even when they are referring to a pair of shoes. You might be able to say, "Where is my pair of shoes?". While this is ok in terms of grammar, it is not idiomatic. I've never heard it said that way.


    regards,
    Cuchuflete

     
  8. Yang Senior Member

    Taiwan /Traditional Chinese
    I see. Thank you for your explaination.:)
     
  9. ma.mithril New Member

    ankara
    turkey-turkish
    hi
    thanks for all
     
  10. shinjiikari New Member

    english
    I would appreciate some help concering a question that arose while I was marking some papers. When asked to describe the differences between two pictures showing the same room -- one taken an hour before the other -- some students commented that a pair of shoes had been moved. I undestand that a "pair" of shoes is a singular, countable grammatical entity. However, the following sentence strikes me as unnatural:

    "There was a pair of shoes on the bed, but now it is under the desk."

    The "was" in the first clause obviously establishes that we are dealing with a singular subject, thus leaving no choice, grammatically speaking, but to maintain that agreement in the following phrase and use the present, singular tense of "to be" when describing that the "pair" of shoes "is" now under the desk. But again, it sounds terrible. My problem may lie with the use of the pronoun "it" in relation to a "pair." I can't really put my finger on it.

    Regardless, the following sentence sounds much better, but creates a schism in the parity of the clauses by using a singular verb in the first and a plural verb in the second, both in reference to the same "pair of shoes."

    "There was a pair of shoes on the bed, but now they are under the desk."

    This sentence sounds correct to me, but I am concerned that it may be a grammatical impossiblity. Any thoughts on what is the best way to express this idea would be of great help. Thanks in advance.
     
  11. mjscott Senior Member

    Both would be correct.
    The first sentence is grammatically correct, but sounds funny because the noun in question (pair) is separated from the verb by a plural noun (shoes) which makes the reader do a double-take.
    The second sentence is grammatically correct, because the second clause is an independent clause. The reader understands that the person who says it is speaking about the shoes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  12. la reine victoria Senior Member

    Hello Shinjiikari,



    Although grammatically correct, and logical, it is not idiomatic. English speakers would naturally say "but now they are under the bed."

    The most confusing use of "pair" is when one garment or object is called "a pair" - trousers, knickers, shorts, scissors, pliers, nut-crackers, bellows.

    "Where are your trousers?"
    "Which pair?"
    "The grey pair."
    "They are under the bed."


    Regards,:)

    LRV
     
  13. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    I agree with LRV - I can't imagine "...now it is under the bed" being said.

    Good instincts!:thumbsup:

    We've seen many times that English often favours sense over grammatical logic, and here I think it is because the last noun mentioned is "shoes" rather than "pair" that the plural then follows. Saying "a pair of" is only necessary to tell us that we are talking about 2 matching shoes (rather than saying "some shoes were on the bed" which is a possibility, but ambiguous as to the number) after that we would naturally talk about "the shoes" I think.
     
  14. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    So, according to what you say, if I would like to reword shinjiikari's sentence I should write it this way:
    There was a pair of shoes on the bed which now are under the desk.
    Right?

    If so, does it sound more natural than: There was a pair of shoes on the bed which now is under the desk.?

    Thanks in advance,
    Thomas
     
  15. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    England
    English (England)
    Sounds so to my ear, yes, because you are interested in the shoes not the fact that they are a pair. You couldn't say, for example, "there is a pair of shoes in the cupboard which is black and red" - it wouldn't make sense.
     
  16. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    And what about:
    there is a black and red pair of shoes in the cupboard

    How does that sound?
     
  17. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Sounds alright to me, but if you were talking about one pair of shoes, which were bi-coloured - black and red - you would be better to say there is a pair of black and red shoes in the cupboard. Also, to avoid confusion, if you were referring to two pairs of shoes - one red pair and one black pair - you would say there is a pair of black (shoes) and a pair of red shoes in the cupboard.
     
  18. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    Cobblers. :D
    You go to your local cobbler with a pair of shoes.
    He says: "What can I do for you?"
    You say: "This pair of shoes is pinching my feet. I need them stretched, please."

    I would allow the students away with either singular or plural.
     
  19. Shinji Ikari New Member

    english
    Hello all. I wanted to thank everyone for their responses to a question I submitted back at post number 10. The replies have been very swift and helpful. I have decided that given its idiomatic appeal (as mentioned by several people) and mjscott's point of drawing attention to the presence of the two independent clauses in my example (thus allowing some grammatical leeway in changing the second clause`s implied subject to the plural "shoes"), that I will indeed suggest "...they are under the chair." to my students, while noting the grammatical acceptability of the alternative phraseology. Certainly, I will keep frequenting this page to see if any other developments should arise concerning this topic, and it also is nice to know that I have a place where I can get informed and friendly responses about such questions. Thanks again!
     
  20. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Where are my shoes? (because "shoes" is plural)

    Where is my new pair of shoes? (because "pair" is singular)
     
  21. Little Bao New Member

    Shanghai, PRC
    Mandarin
    My son was given an English test on singular and plural grammer, which made me confused.

    The test is: Look at each of the 3 pitures, use "what are these?" or "what is this" to ask a question, then use "they are..." or "it is..." to answer the question.

    The first piture is "a hat", the second one is "a pair of trousers", and the third one is "a pair of shoes".

    I think the answers should be as below, but I am not certain on the third one. Can you help me?
    First picture: What is this? It's a hat.
    Second picture: What is this? It's a pair of trousers.
    Third picture: What are these? They are shoes?
    -- The test requires my kid to use "a pair of shoes" instead of "shoes", then what will be the right question and answer? Will it be "What are these?" and "This is a pair of shoes"? Using "this is" to answer a question of "what are these" sounds a bit unnatural to me.

    Thanks
     
  22. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    Hello Little Bao. :)

    I agree with your confusion.

    I think the natural question would be "What are these?"
    so the answer should be "These are a pair of shoes."

    My reasoning is that an answer usually picks up the words of the question. To respond to "What are these?" with "This is a pair of shoes" sounds unnatural, as you say. We usually use a singular verb with 'a pair', we do sometimes use the plural, depending on the sense, as people have said above.

    In real life, I think we would simply answer "A pair of shoes" and avoid the problem altogether. ;)
     
  23. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I think it is possible to say the following:
    A What are these (pointing to a pair of shoes)?
    B Those are shoes.
     
  24. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    Someone certainly could say that, if they thought that was what you wanted to know. :)

    However, apparently the test being discussed requires that the answer include "a pair of shoes".
     
  25. Little Bao New Member

    Shanghai, PRC
    Mandarin
    Thanks both!

    It's not only required to use "a pair of shoes", but also required to chose either "they are" or "it is" to answer without third choice available. That indeed confused me.

    I'll let my son know what native speakers usually say though he has to follow the teacher's answer in a school exam.

    Many thanks again!
     
  26. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    In Total English Elementary by Mark Foley and Diane Hall, there are the following dialogues (in a shop):
    A What's this? ~B It's a DVD player.
    A What's that? ~B It's a picture.
    A What are these? ~B They're mobile phones.
    A What are those? ~B They're dishes.

    I wonder where a pair of shoes belongs.
    Is it:
    A What's this? ~B It's a pair of shoes.
     
  27. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Then it should be:
    A What's this? ~B It's a pair of shoes.

    That is definitely grammatical. I'm not sure if it is idiomatic, though.

    Also have a look this site. There are very interesting examples of dialogues with the demonstrative pronouns this, that, these and those.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  28. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    In the handbook of English they teach that we should use "they're X" in response to the question "what are these".
    Apparently it is not always true.
    Compare: "Those are shoes to go dancing in"
    Source: In these shoes by Amanda Boyd

    In Total English Starter I found a similar response:
    (at the customs)
    A What's in your suitcase?
    B Two pairs of shoes, a pair of glasses, eight pairs of trousers, five tops ...
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  29. Vega003 Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spanish (Spain)
    Of course you can say this: "there is a pair of shoes in the cupboard which is black and red", but then (I understand) black and red refer to the colours of the cupboard, even if there was a pause (comma) between cupboard and which.

    But then I have another doubt concerning the use of 'a pair of'.
    Can you start a sentence with either 'it' (singualr) or 'they/these' (plural) before 'a pair of'?
    For example: It's a pair of scissors. They're a pair of glasses.
     
  30. Vega003 Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spanish (Spain)
    Of course you can say this: "there is a pair of shoes in the cupboard which is black and red", but then (I understand) black and red refer to the colours of the cupboard, even if there was a pause (comma) between cupboard and which.

    But then I have another doubt concerning the use of 'a pair of'.
    Can you start a sentence with either 'it' (singualr) or 'they/these' (plural) before 'a pair of'?
    For example: It's a pair of scissors. They're a pair of glasses.
     
  31. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Good question, Vega.

    When we have "a pair of" something, we use the singular verb.

    This is a pair of shoes.
    This is a pair of trousers.

    The reason is that "of [something]" is modifying "pair".

    (I wouldn't say "a pair of glasses"; they are just "glasses".)
     
  32. Qinchun New Member

    Shanghai, China
    Mandarin
    Since "a pair of shoes" is grammatically singular, can we use "one" to refer to the pair mentioned? For example:

    This pair of shoes fits me, but that one doesn't.

    Or, we should say: This pair of shoes fits me, but that pair doesn't.

    Thanks!
     

Share This Page