I am confused about the preposition in this sentence:

The students left the classroom "in twos" or "by twos".

Which form is correct?

  • 1
    "In pairs" would be an improved form. If you wanted to use the phrase "by two" it is usually used as follows; "The students left the classroom two by two." Jun 30, 2017 at 10:30
  • 1
    'Two by two' for Noah's Ark inferences. Jun 30, 2017 at 10:43
  • @marcellothearcane Only for the "unclean" animals. The "clean" animals (and all types of bird) were to be taken in seven pairs Genesis 7:2–3.
    – TripeHound
    Jun 30, 2017 at 15:36
  • @TripeHound Indeed, but most people recognise 'two by two' - possibly from nursery rhymes. Jun 30, 2017 at 15:41
  • "... two at a time."
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 2, 2017 at 16:51

1 Answer 1


"In twos" is correct. I'm not sure where you got "by twos" from.

Merriam webster:

in twos

in groups of two


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