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  1. Yourjones
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    #1

    A pair of trousers

    Hi,

    Do I have to say "There is a pair of trousers on the bathroom counter. THEY need cleaning"? Can't I say "It needs cleaning?" In spoken English?

    Thanks.

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: A pair of trousers

    I'd probably say 'they'.

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    #3

    Re: A pair of trousers

    In spoken English, you can say many things. It could sound more like a slip of tongue than an error, but it wouldn't sound natural to me.
    Last edited by 5jj; 09-Mar-2014 at 07:57. Reason: Non-essential QUOTE deleted

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    #4

    Re: A pair of trousers

    Yes - I think 'they' would be the much more common reference. I think the plural 's' of trousers makes us use a plural pronoun, even though the noun (a pair) is singular.

    Often, with phrases like this, such as 'a group of people' or 'a set of saucepans', we use the plural form of the verb - 'are'- despite the noun phrase being singular. I used to think that this shows that the speaker conceives the thing to be plural in nature. Similarly, we say things like 'the police are coming' and 'Chelsea are beating Liverpool'.

    However, in the case of 'a pair of trousers', I guess that most people would consider this as a single item, so therefore the choice of 'they' doesn't make sense. Maybe, as I said, the presence of 's' overrides the concept of singularity in the speaker's mind.

    Any further thoughts on this?

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: A pair of trousers

    I have no idea why we say "pair of pants" or "pair of trousers". That is what doesn't make sense. But using "they" makes sense to me. We normally use the plural pronoun to describe them. In AmE English we use "the police" as a plural noun, but we would say Chicago is beating New York. And, as Alan Sherman once sang in the song "One Hippopotami", half a pair of scissors is a "single scis".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umlBrQoG6xk
    Last edited by 5jj; 09-Mar-2014 at 07:58. Reason: Non=essential QUOTE deleted

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    #6

    Re: A pair of trousers

    Good song! Thanks for the link.

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: A pair of trousers

    Moderator’s Note.

    The QUOTE feature can be very useful, but there is no need to QUOTE part/all of a previous post when it is clear what you are referring to. Over-use of this feature can makes threads unnecessarily long. Please QUOTE only if it clarifies what could be confusing, or if you are making corrections to the original text. Thank you.

    5jj
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 09-Mar-2014 at 09:07.

  5. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: A pair of trousers

    'It' would sound very strange in AusE. I can't imagine it being used.

  6. Roman55's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: A pair of trousers

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    However, in the case of 'a pair of trousers', I guess that most people would consider this as a single item, so therefore the choice of 'they' doesn't make sense. Maybe, as I said, the presence of 's' overrides the concept of singularity in the speaker's mind.

    Any further thoughts on this?
    I am not a teacher.

    It is exactly the same as a pair of glasses, which are always plural even though the grammatical subject is a pair.

    Admittedly, there are two lenses but then again there are two legs in a pair of trousers.

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    #10

    Re: A pair of trousers

    Quote Originally Posted by Roman55 View Post
    Admittedly, there are two lenses but then again there are two legs in a pair of trousers.
    And there are two sleeves on a shirt.

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