My wife always gives me a hard time when I say scissors; she insists the only correct way to refer to that cutting device is "pair of scissors". Is "pair of scissors" more correct than "scissors"?
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Both scissors and pair of scissors are correct; one is not more correct than the other. The context will usually determine where pair can be left out, and indeed, most simply leave it out where possible. Consider the following examples:
In the above examples, one would rarely find pair used in those contexts. It is also colloquial to use some to refer to just one pair:
The above forms should not be used in formal situations. Thus:
In some situations, pair comes in handy:
If one does not want to use pair, then one can also use ones:
Similar "pair" words follow the same pattern. These are some common examples, not an exhaustive list:
Clothing worn below the waist:
Singular items (mostly worn) that usually come in pairs:
One word that I do not think "pair" is ever used with, even though they come in pairs:
Does she also complain that your pair of shoes don't match your pair of pants? Or that your pair of socks need to be darned?
Just as we needn't refer to the above using pair of, there's nothing wrong with referring to a pair of scissors as simply scissors.
The "pair of" construction is useful when trying to refer to multiple scissors. "Pairs of scissors" is much more elegant than "many scissors," "those two scissors," etc.
protected by tchrist Feb 26 '15 at 2:06
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