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As far as I know when I use "a pair of ..." form, the word I will put in the blank needs to be plural. But, in case I want to specify two different types of things as a pair, can I specify them as "a pair of ..."?

Let me take an example. Assuming that I got two different types of balls – base ball and basket ball – and I bind them together into a pair, the pair will consist of two different types of balls. In this case, can I use "a pair of ..." form in the following way:

The boy bought a pair of base ball and basket ball.

I have hardly seen this, but I am curious.

2 Answers 2

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Your use of pair is incorrect.

From Merriam-Webster:

pair: two things that are the same and are meant to be used together OR a thing that has two parts which are joined OR two people who are related in some way or who do something together

Your example of a baseball and a basketball doesn't satisfy any of these definitions. They are not "the same and meant to be used together" in same sense that two shoes, socks, gloves, bicycle tires, or bookends are the same and meant to be used together; and they are not "part of a thing that has two parts which are joined", such as pants and eyeglasses.

You could say:

"The boy bought a baseball and a basketball."

If the boy bought two balls, you could say:

"The boy bought two balls."

You could also say, "The boy bought a pair of balls," but this would make sense only if the two balls are meant to be used together or are two parts joined together.

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  • Thanks first. How about two different types of globes used in a voyage. Can I say those globes are used together in the voyage so as to use "a pair of celestial and terrestrial globe." ?
    – Sam
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 2:36
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    @Sam That's closer, but that, too, would be incorrect. The two globes are not the same and not meant to be used together in same sense as a pair shoes, gloves, bicycle tires, or bookends. And they are not things that have two parts which are joined, such as pants and eyeglasses. Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 2:50
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The boy bought a pair of balls, one of which was a basketball and the other was a baseball.

The boy bought a pair of balls, comprising a baseball and a basketball.

The boy bought two balls, a basketball and a baseball.

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  • Yeah I know it is basic
    – Sam
    Commented Oct 16, 2016 at 2:37
  • As Richard said a pair has to be of matched items. If you want to play with his balls, the boy could have a mismatched "couple" for baseball and basketball. Any more than one could be a "set" but a set of two would be unlikely unless, to stretch a point, the ball boy had a white one for golf on grass and an orange one for snow, or as in cricket a special black one for practice and a proper red one for real play. Commented Oct 29, 2016 at 23:52

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