It's/they're a pair of shoes


It might seem a trivial question but it occured to me whlie I was writing for an assignment.

I know if I put a pair of in subject place, I should use a singular verb e.g. A pair of shoes is there. Does it work the other way around too?

What subject suits this sentence, a singular or plural one:

.... is/are a pair of shoes.

This is confusing for me because on the one hand when you point at some shoes actually you're showing something that is originally a plural noun so it must be addressed as plural. On the other hand we want to use a pair of which is singular. So which is correct?

It's a pair of shoes.

They're a pair of shoes.


Posted 2016-07-13T16:55:22.350

Reputation: 7 422

Wow! I'm getting different answers. Well I'm not really in place to say which is right. – Yuri – 2016-07-13T21:02:38.650



In your examples, both are correct, but it depends on what you are referring to

It is a pair of shoes.
It is a pair of two halves.

It is a pair

in these examples one is describing the "pair"edness of the objects.

They are a pair of shoes.
Those are a nice pair of melons.

two somethings are a pair

in these examples one is describing the objects as a "pair".


Posted 2016-07-13T16:55:22.350

Reputation: 63 575

Thank you Peter. Is this applicable to plural nouns that always are plural like jeans? I mean here again can we use both it's/they're a pair of jeans? – Yuri – 2016-07-14T09:46:12.407


Many group nouns can take either take a singular or plural conjugation depending on the dialect of the speaker. These include things like band, group, and pair. In general, BE prefers a plural form for these nouns and AmE a singular form.

EDIT: Here's some data from the GloWbE corpus for usage frequencies.

"Pair are":

Pair are

"Pair is":

Pair is


Posted 2016-07-13T16:55:22.350

Reputation: 1 131

So both sentences are right? It's/They're a pair of shoes. – Yuri – 2016-07-13T18:27:23.183

Yes, essentially. I'd suggest you pick the one that corresponds to the variety of English you're learning, like AmE or BE, and stick to using it. – eijen – 2016-07-13T21:49:09.660

What about AusE and NZE? – 3kstc – 2016-07-14T06:14:13.370

@3kstc AusE and NZE "pair is" FREQ / SIZE (M) / PER MIL - AUS 81 / 148.2 / 0.55 | NZ 56 / 81.4 / 0.69. "Pair are" : AUS 53 / 148.2 / 0.36 | NZ 48 / 81.4 / 0.59. Queries: "pair is", "pair are" - select Frequency to see results.

– eijen – 2016-07-15T00:00:05.147


It is a pair of shoes.

They are shoes.

Grammatically a pair is singular.


Posted 2016-07-13T16:55:22.350

Reputation: 368