a pair of running shoes, which was/were sold...


Senior Member
Malaysia English
Joel wanted to buy a pair of running shoes, which was/were sold at a discounted price.

Which word in blue should I use?

  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    With the original sentence, you can say either. The pair was sold; the shoes were sold: so the pair of shoes was/were. With your new sentence, we're unlikely to ask where our pair of shoes is: we'd just ask where our shoes are. But if we do use 'pair', it stays singular: this pair is more comfortable than the other one.


    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    Both work in the first sentence:
    The noun pair can be followed by a singular or plural verb. The singular is always used when pair denotes the set taken as a single entity: This pair of shoes is on sale. A plural verb is used when the members are considered as individuals: The pair are working more harmoniously now. After a number other than one, pair itself can be either singular or plural, but the plural is now more common: She bought six pairs (or pair) of stockings.
    EDIT: I've just seen Entangledbank's post.



    Senior Member
    American English
    For some reason, we - or at least I - tend to talk about the shoes as individual items in that situation:

    Where are my running shoes?
    They are here.

    Maybe because in that situation, we're just thinking of the shoes as separate objects to be located, not a pair of things we put on our feet to help us run. Or maybe it's just one of those "that's the way we say it" things.

    Edit: Crossposted with the above. I note that British English often uses the plural for collective nouns (in the situation Thomas cites) wheras American English uses the singular.
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